Robot Arm F1 Ferrari Simulator

Paolo Robuffo Giordano and colleagues at the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics in Tübingen, Germany, must really enjoy their jobs. Their CyberMotion Simulator is intended to realistically replicate the experience of driving a Ferrari without actually having to buy one.

Ferrari Simulator This image shows the robotic arm Ferrari simulator without a steering wheel attached. The simulator includes a force-feedback steering wheel and pedals. via Cyberneum

IEEE Spectrum: Engineers Turn Robot Arm into Formula 1 Simulator

The CyberMotion Simulator is basically a full motion simulator adapted to a racing car game. Players (or subjects, the researchers prefer to call them) sit in a cabin on a robot arm some 2 meters off the ground and drive a Ferrari F2007 car around a projected track with force-feedback steering wheel and pedals. The aim is to make the experience as realistic as possible without having to buy a real F2007, and to test the simulator with an environment that requires sudden, massive acceleration.

The robot arm is a Robocoaster, a modified six-axis Kuka KR 500 that can lift up to 500 kg. It's usually found in amusement parks and normally does not allow users any control. Robuffo Giordano and his collaborators want to use it to study how we perceive motion; their paper, though, deals with the mechanics of the simulator.

KUKA Entertainment - Research

KUKA passenger-carrying robot in research

Research and development institutions are keen KUKA passenger-carrying robot users. A large work envelope, an open kinematic chain, individual customization, flexible supply of energy and fluids and intuitive operation of the controller are just some of the plus points that make the KUKA passenger-carrying robot the first choice for research into the brain and sensory perception.

A Novel Framework for Closed-Loop Robotic Motion Simulation

Robuffo Giordano, P., C. Masone, J. Tesch, M. Breidt, L. Pollini and H. H. Bülthoff: A Novel Framework for Closed-Loop Robotic Motion Simulation - Part II: Motion Cueing Design and Experimental Validation. Proceedings of the 2010 IEEE International Conference on Robotics and Automation (ICRA 2010), 3896-3903, IEEE, Piscataway, NJ, USA (05 2010)

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: What kind of robot is that?
A: The CyberMotion Simulator is built upon a commcercially available industry robot (the KUKA KR-500 robot), modified by KUKA for theme park purposes and heavily customized at the MPI for use as a research setup.


Q: So what's the difference between this simulator and fun rides based on the same robot, such as the Legoland Power Builder or the Disney Epcot Sum of All Thrills?
A: Technically, the biggest difference is that our simulator is a 'closed-loop' simulator, which means that you can interactively control your motion trajectory while you are in the simulator, whereas the typical fun rides have preprogrammed trajectories that are simply played back during a ride. The second difference is that we never intended to produce a fully developed fun ride, so sound and graphics are worse than what you would expect from a fun ride. Also, since our simulator is computing the real-world physics of a F1 car quite accurately, it is much harder to drive than a typical computer game. And finally, we can use this simulation in experiments to gain insights into human perception of motion.