This ridiculously awesome motion simulator is suspended in mid air by a series of cables

The physical aspect to a virtual reality experience is just as important as the visual element. Custom VR gaming seats, haptic accessories, and cable-free headset rigs are all a testament to this emphasis on a “virtually real” physical environment. A new rig called the Cable Robot Simulator brings this emphasis on the physical to motion simulators, and it’s making the VR experience even more realistic.

The cable-driven robot is a development from the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics. If you ever went to an arcade as a child, the robotic system might remind you of those design-your-own roller coaster simulation rides. The Cable Robot Simulator is designed to mimic the motion a player sees in a Virtual Reality headset, for example in racing games and flight simulations. Control algorithms and a completely programmable interface make the Simulator extremely versatile.

Carbon fiber tubes frame the robot’s cabin, which is attached to eight unsupported steel cables and winches. All together, the simulator facilitates a drive power of 348 kilowatts. The cabin can also accelerate at 1.5g along any programmable path within the simulator’s workspace. The cables can be reassembled in different configurations around the cabin to adapt for more specific workspace needs. In this most recent prototype, the workspace stands at 5 x 8 x 5 meters cubed, but the beauty of VR simulation allows for the sensation of much greater distances.

Very small movements in the Cable Robot Simulator paired with well-timed visuals in a VR headset trick the human brain into thinking there’s much more movement going on. It’s precisely this natural brain hack that scientists hope the Cable Robot Simulator will help elaborate. Professor Heinrich Bülthoff is the project lead on the Cable Robot Simulator, but he is also a long-time perception researcher.

“This simulator offers us entirely new possibilities for studying motion perception with possible applications in neurological research into balance disorders,” said Professor Bülthoff. The Cable Robot Simulator is just a prototype at this point, but in the near future its applications could range from arcade VR games to professional simulation training for pilots and even the military. Eventually, the Simulator could become an important clinical tool as researchers seek to better understand human perception and balance.

News

Listen up! White noise device may make VR motion sickness a thing of the past

A simple device that sends white noise vibrations to the inner ear could be all it takes to fix the long-running problem of nausea in virtual reality. The developers are now seeking FDA approval.
Computing

Want to make one hard drive act like two? Here's how to partition in Windows

If you don't want all of your files stored in one place but only have one drive to work with, partitioning is your best way forward. Here's how to partition a hard drive in Windows 10, step by step.
Cars

Tesla could show the electric pickup Elon Musk is dying to build in 2019

Tesla has started designing its long-promised pickup truck. The yet-unnamed model will come with dual-motor all-wheel drive and lots of torque, plus it will be able to park itself.
Emerging Tech

The 20 best tech toys for kids will make you wish you were 10 again

Looking for the perfect toy or gadget for your child? Thankfully, we've rounded up some of our personal favorite tech toys, including microscopes, computer kits, and a spherical droid from a galaxy far, far away.
Cars

Best Products of 2018

Our reception desk has so many brown boxes stacked up, it looks like a loading dock. We’re on a first-name basis with the UPS guy. We get new dishwashers more frequently than most people get new shoes. What we’re trying to say is: We…
Emerging Tech

A lidar-equipped truck knows exactly how much de-icer to apply on roads

Lidar is best known as the laser-based technology that helps self-driving cars sense their surroundings. But the city of Knoxville has another, more seasonal use for it: De-icing roads.
Emerging Tech

This unusual nature-inspired robot is equally at home on land or in the water

This intriguing, nature-inspired robot may look unusual, but it's impressively capable of moving on both land and water without problem. Heck, it can even travel on ice if necessary.
Emerging Tech

This cryptocurrency wallet for kids isn’t nearly as stupid as it sounds

So you’ve taught your 6-year-old child to read, write, and play nice with others. What’s next? Give them a base understanding of cryptocurrency, of course. This Kickstarter aims to help.
Emerging Tech

Light, speed: Lighting kit for DJI Mavic 2 lets you fly and film in the dark

Lume Cube, maker of small battery-powered LED lights for mobile photography, has announced a new lighting kit built specifically for the DJI Mavic 2 -- the first of its kind. Already our favorite drone, this makes the Mavic 2 even better.
Emerging Tech

Prepare for liftoff: Here are all the important upcoming SpaceX rocket launches

From ISS resupply missions to a host of communication and scientific satellite launches, SpaceX has a busy year ahead. Here's a rundown of some of the company's most important missions slated for the next year.
Emerging Tech

Virgin Galactic’s latest test flight takes it to the edge of space

Sir Richard Branson's Virgin Galactic has successfully carried out its fourth powered flight in Mojave, California. It was the company's most ambitious test flight yet -- and bodes well for the future.
Emerging Tech

We’re going to the Red Planet! All the past, present, and future missions to Mars

SpaceX isn't the only organization pining to visit the Red Planet. Here's a detailed list of all operational and planned missions to Mars, along with explanations of their objectives, spacecraft details, and mission proposals.
Emerging Tech

There’s a giant EMP blaster in New Mexico. Don’t worry, it’s here to protect us

An electromagnetic pulse has the potential to disable virtually all electronics within a large area. To help protect against such a threat is a new, friendly EMP emitter. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

There’s a new lab-grown meat startup on the block — and it has a secret weapon

Aleph Farms is developing lab-grown steaks with the same flavor, shape, texture, and structure as the real thing using beef cells isolated from living cows. Coming soon to a store near you?