A 360 video tour of the MPI Cable Robot Simulator


Welcome to the
Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. At our institute, about 300 employees are studying the basic principles of information processing in the brain. To the right, behind the trees, lies the city center of Tübingen, about two kilometers away. If you look towards the horizon beyond the Neckar river you can see the Swabian Jura. Do you see the greenish building
in the foreground to the left? That is our “Cyberneum”. There we use unique motion simulators
to study the human perception of self motion. We are now going to take a closer look
at one of those simulators. In front of you, you can see the platform
of our latest system: The Cable Robot Simulator. It was custom-built in-house by the department of Professor Bülthoff in collaboration with Fraunhofer. It is a unique one-of-a-kind motion platform that can move a person freely in a very large volume. With it, we study how humans use their different senses to perceive the sensation of motion. In our experiments it is important for us
to be able to move our participants along all three axes of space very precisely
in terms of location, speed, and acceleration. Let’s take a closer look at the simulator: The system consists of a very light carbon fiber platform which is held by eight steel cables and pulleys, and can be accelerated by electric motors
with a total of 470 horsepower at up to 1.5 g. This is the same as a car going from zero to 60 miles per hour in less than two seconds. The platform can be moved and turned in all directions by precisely coordinating the winding and unwinding of the cables. Let’s start an experiment! The participant sits in the center of the platform,
wearing a VR headset similar to yours. With this, we can also control what the
participant sees while moving in space. We get an optimal motion sensation
by showing an image sequence that matches the simulated movement in order for the
senses to augment each other. That way, we can conduct very precise experiment
to find out how our brain combines the senses of… balance, vision, and body movement into a common sensation of motion. From these experiments we determine
thresholds and other rules of human motion perception to develop mathematical models of the perception processes involved. Our results from basic research also help us to develop better flight and driving simulators. For this purpose we consider the real motion of a vehicle and use the simulator to produce a motion sensation
that is as similar as possible. For example, here,
we see the simulation of a sports car on a racetrack. If you look at the wall to the far right, you can see what the participant sees in her handset. Of course, in a real experiment the movie would only be played inside the VR headset. In order to compute the actual motion of the simulator, we utilize the insights from our basic research. The discovered perceptual phenomena allow us to optimally use the motion range of the simulator. Here, we see how the system simulates the acceleration in a curve of the racetrack with a sideway motion, combined with a tilt. With the experiment still running, our virtual tour to our motion simulator comes to an end. We hope you enjoyed it and thank you for your interest. We would be happy to
welcome you in person at our institute one day, maybe as a participant
or as a visitor to our open house day. Until then
we say goodbye!

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