What Are We Doing Here?!

Lots of motion simulators already exist, with varying strengths and weaknesses.

Some, like RotoVR, are relatively low-cost, consumer-oriented platforms.  But they are limited.  RotoVR only spins around one axis, and (if you ask me) it’s kind of gimmicky.

Roto VR – A yaw-only motion simulator. Gimmicky? Perhaps. But at least it’s relatively affordable…

Others, like the simulators from Talon Simulations are more capable (and more expensive!), but suffer from motion limitations.  The Talon simulator has only two degrees of motion freedom, can’t rotate very far, and it rotates around the base of the chair.  That causes “head whip” effects during rotation, which seriously limits its capabilities as a motion simulator.  If you are interested, watch the video on their main page (as of 12/27/2017).  There are segments where you can see very clearly how users’ heads will whip from side to side, a problem that is exacerbated by the fact that the user is wearing a heavy headset!

Talon Simulations – Cool, but not cheap, and actually not great for VR.

I really like the design behind the Feel Three motion simulator because it allows for rotation around three axes (yaw, pitch, and roll), it is presumably fairly affordable, and its design allows for rotation more closely to the user’s head (mitigates against “head whip” and other nausea-inducing factors).  But even Feel Three is limited, since it doesn’t allow for translation – only rotation.

Feel Three – Best option for price and performance, I think, but still fundamentally limited.

The ideal motion platform would have the following characteristics:

  • 6-DOF motion (three rotation axes, three translation axes)
  • Affordable
  • VR-friendly motion (rotation center, minimal latency, high control capability)

So that’s what we want to build.  It can be difficult, because a 6-DOF motion simulator isn’t going to be cheap – not from a mass consumer perspective.  So affordability is going to be sort of relative.  We may develop this as a kit with plans so that DIY types can build the dream platform.

And going from scratch to a full 6-DOF platform is a tall order, at least for us.  So we’ve started with a 2-DOF design, but we are developing the motion control system in a way that will facilitate 6-DOF motion control down the road.  The Feel Three approach would be great for a 3-DOF platform, but there is no easy upgrade path to a 6-DOF system.  So our system utilizes linear actuators for rotation.  Our intent is to re-use those actuators for a more capable design.

An early concept of what a 6-DOF, linear-actuator driven design might look like:

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