Robot arm takes engineers for a virtual reality Formula 1 ride (video)
Sean Hollister|August 7, 2010 6:04 PM
As it turns out, industrial-strength robot arms are good for more than amusing hijinks and the occasional assembly line -- a team of researchers at Germany's Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics have turned a KUKA KR 500 into the ultimate Formula 1 simulator ride. Outfitting the six-axis, half-ton lifter with a force-feedback steering wheel, pedals, video projector and curved screen, the newly-christened CyberMotion Simulator lets scientists throw a virtual Ferrari F2007 race car into the turns, while the cockpit whips around with up to 2 Gs of equal-and-opposite Newtonian force. There's actually no loftier goal for this particular science project, as the entire point was to create a racing video game that feels just like the real thing -- though to be fair, a second paper tested to see whether projectors or head-mounted displays made for better drivers. (Projectors won.) See how close they came to reality in a video after the break, while we go perform a little experiment of our own.