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Distributed Virtual Prototyping

Objective

This project will develop a multi-sensory, distributed virtual environment for the prototyping of products. The system will explore and support capabilities that are taken for granted with physical prototypes, but missing in current simulations: natural two-handed manipulation, accurate real-time constraint modelling, and the ability to touch and manipulate objects using haptic feedback. A novel combination of local and distributed processing will be used to meet stringent real-time constraints, while permitting geographically distributed users to interact with a shared model. Assessment and demonstration will be by developing four modular applications: assembly, maintenance, electronic handbook and interactive assistance. These applications support the product life cycle by allowing manufacturing and subsequent usability and maintenance issues to be considered. They are targeted at the aerospace and automotive sectors, but will be important in any industries involved in product design, where assembly, maintenance and customer support - that is, life cycle issues - must be considered during design.

Objectives:
The objective of the project is to generate a virtual environment that integrates multi-sensory interaction (visual, audio and touch senses), real-world simulation utilities, such as collision detection, gravitational force, and flexible elements and a distributed environment that will allow multiple users, in the same or different locations, to work concurrently with the same virtual model. This environment will be used by different teams, such as design, assembly, maintenance and post-sales teams, throughout the life cycle of a product. The final system will be a Distributed Virtual Prototyping Environment, that will allow users in the same or remote locations to create and analyse new products without using a physical model, mock-ups or prototypes, but by means of realistic navigation and visualisation of the virtual model, using touch sensing for shape inspection and geometry manipulation through haptic devices. A two-handed input device and four modular applications will be developed: assembly, maintenance, electronic handbook and interactive assistance.

Work description:
The aim of the project is not to develop new systems or devices from scratch, but to integrate existing ones, adding the above mentioned utilities. The final system will be a Distributed Virtual Prototyping Environment, that will allow users in the same or remote locations to analyse new products without using a physical model, by means of realistic navigation and visualisation of the virtual model, using touch sensing for shape inspection and geometry manipulation through haptic devices.

Four modular applications will be developed:
- Assembly. This will allow design and assembly teams to assess the validity of the design and the influence of design changes and simulate and define assembly procedures.
- Maintenance. This will allow maintenance teams to simulate replacements of parts and assess and train for maintenance procedures of complex assemblies.
- Electronic Handbook. This will support the preparation of electronic manuals for presentation, assembly, maintenance, in a way which provides compact, interactive and user-friendly documentation.
- Interactive Assistance. This will support a direct link between the service department and the customer user to provide assistance with the help of the virtual prototype.

Most of the real world assembly and maintenance tasks are two-handed operations and therefore a globe-based interface, the PHANToM(tm) and a new two-handed input device, will be used to support manual operations with force feedback. This new device will be composed of a LCD display, two 6 dof controllers based on an existing measurement system, and additional buttons. The architecture of the Distributed Environment, which separates local manipulation of cached model data from distribution and synchronisation of changes globally between multiple participants, provides a natural method for structuring the integration of the different applications.

Milestones:
Month 18 - Prototype of the system including four modular applications: an assembly simulation module, a maintenance simulation module, an electronic handbook and an interactive assistance module. These applications will support capabilities as: natural two-handed manipulation (by means of a new device), accurate real-time constraint modelling, deformable geometry and haptic interaction.
Month 24 - Validation of the prototype by the end users that will be able to interact simultaneously with a shared model.
We have shown that nutrient affinity constants for bacteria, autotrophic flagellates and dinoflagellates can be reasonably well predicted using a simple model based on the assumption of diffusion-limited phosphate uptake. This work puts the experimental foundation for model parameterisation on a much more solid ground. Diatoms appear to be an exception from the idealised theory, having a higher affinity than predicted. We suspect this deviation to be caused by the simplifying assumption of spherical cells, an assumption not well suited for many diatoms. Experiments with the ciliate Strombidium sulcatum confirm a direct negative effect of turbulence on growth and feeding. In contrast, our results show little direct influence of turbulence on ciliate growth in natural communities. For the purposes of incorporating turbulence into models of the interactions of planktonic webs, direct effects of turbulence on the ciliate component can safely be omitted.

Experiments of the growth of phototrophic and mixotrophic dinoflagellates subjected to turbulence show further complexities owing to changes in the pH of water and aggregate formation besides the response to nutrient/prey concentrations. This group of organisms shows a high species-specific response to turbulence making experiments with different organisms very valuable. The response of the planktonic community to nutrient additions shows clear differences between the Mediterranean and Norwegian coastal systems and for different initial conditions, subjected to a range of time-scale variability, within a particular system. While in the Norwegian system the relationship between particulate organic carbon (POC) or chlorophyll a increase and nutrient dose was linear, in the Mediterranean system the response to nutrients levelled off at 8 µM nitrate. When data on coastal systems are pooled together, the production of POC shows a two-dimensional dome-shape relationship with respect to turbulence and nutrient load.

This indicates the need to consider turbulence as a variable when assessing nutrient load thresholds in coastal systems. A model that incorporates turbulence effects to the fluxes within a food web shows that the organisms with the largest response are diatoms and mesozooplankton in accordance with theory which states that the bigger planktonic organisms show the largest potential for turbulence to affect nutrient fluxes and prey encounter rate. The development of a new sensor to measure turbulence in the laboratory enhances our research capabilities and improves the competitive edge of the European company NORTEK AS.

Call for proposal

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Coordinator

SENER INGENIERIA Y SISTEMAS S.A.
Address
Avenida Zugazarte 56
48930 Las Arenas
Spain

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Participants (6)

DEUTSCHES ZENTRUM FUER LUFT - UND R
Germany
Address
Linder Hohe
51147 Koln

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EUROCOPTER
France
Address
L'aeroport
13180 Marignane

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FUNDACION LABEIN
Spain
Address
Parque Tecnologico De Bizkaia, Calle Geldo, Edificio 700
48160 Deria

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KL TECHNIK GMBH RAPID PROTOTYPING
Germany
Address
Konrad-zuse-bogen 7
82152 Krailling

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THE UNIVERSITY OF SALFORD
United Kingdom
Address
43, The Crescent
M5 4WT Salford

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THE VICTORIA UNIVERSITY OF MANCHESTER
United Kingdom
Address
Oxford Road
M13 9PL Manchester

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