Motion Platforms – When Simulation Starts with Motion

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We have discussed in the past some of the advantages one gets of using simulators in training, teaching, and everyday practice. A category of simulators that is most often overlooked is that of motion platforms.

What is a motion platform simulator?

Before going into details, we should first check on some basic physics theory. A motion simulator or motion platform is a mechanism that creates the feelings of being in a real motion environment. In a simulator, the movement is synchronized with a visual display of the outside world scene.

Most frequently, you can differentiate the simulators by what option they offer to the user: is he controlling the vehicle (such as in a lifting or driving simulator) or is he a passive rider (as in the case of a motion theater or theme park rides)?

Another important feature of a motion platform simulator consists of its degrees of freedom (DOF).

What are DOF and why do they matter for motion platforms?

As mentioned above, DOF stands for Degrees Of Freedom and it refers to the number and types of moves that an object can make inside a given space. What helps to define the DOF of a given tool are its translation and rotation parameters. More precisely, a body is free to translate in 3 degrees of freedom when it moves along the X, Y, and Z axes. These are known as heave, surge, and sway.

Moving along the X, Y, and Z axes

A body, however, can also rotate with 3 degrees of freedom (when it turns in order to face a different axis). The latter are pitch, yaw, and roll.

Most commonly known cases in real-life are those of objects with 6DOF. Among these, the easiest to understand ones are of an airplane and a bird

Airplane moving in 3DOF

Another example of a known object moving with 6DOF is that of a naval ship. In this particular case, the translation is even easier to visualize than in that of an airplane. We can say that there is no greater physical freedom than we see in flying and diving.

6DOF Motion of a vessel on the ocean

Cars also experience pitch, roll, and yaw, but the amounts are relatively small and are usually the result of the suspension reacting to turns, accelerations, and road conditions.

When it comes to simulators, the number of DOF matters, even more for VR experiences. That is because it indicates how well the orientation and position of the object or body will be tracked. Each degree of freedom gives the simulator more motion. For example, a 3DOF VR headset will know where you are looking, while a 6DOF one will also know where you are inside the 3D space.

Motion Platform Simulators In Training

Various studies state that simulators, including motion platforms, bring real benefits to training and learning.

There is a wide range of simulators that can use motion platforms, from truck driving, crane lifting, flight, train, and even lifeboat simulator.

For motion platform simulators training, variables such as the quality of the visual display and auditory cues, the degrees of freedom of the motion systems, the motion drive algorithm and the temporal synchronization between motion and displays, play an important role.

Another major say is of the setup you choose to go for. The options you normally have with motion platforms are standalone multi-monitor setup or VR setup or both – it depends not only on your preferences but also on the type of the motion system you select.

For example, for 2DOF motion platforms, you can choose the setup you prefer the most.

Screen-based motion simulator setup

On the other hand, for 3DOF and 6DOF multi-monitor setup is more complicated and you have to consider the weight that will be added to the payload. In such cases, VR is the option to go with and, if needed, you can opt for extra monitors for the spectators.

VR-based motion simulator setup

Apart from monitors, there is a sum of different other elements that can go on top of a motion platform, such as screens, chairs, steering controls, half-cabins, whole cabins, whole cars, etc.

VR-based with whole-cabin and external spectator monitor setup on a motion platform

PaleBlue Take on Motion Systems

We did not step back from the challenge of building systems that do meet most complex motion training requirements. Hence, our product portfolio counts also several types of motion platforms, from 2DOF to 3DOF, 6DOF and even custom platforms.

PaleBlue motion simulators represent the new generation in platforms: lightweight, easy-to-use, and highly mobile. All of our motion systems work in VR environment but you can also use regular screens.

Explore PaleBlue Motion Platform Simulators Technology

PaleBlue has the right selection of 6DOF and other motion systems for your needs.

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It is a sure thing that motion platforms can tremendously increase immersion in all VR experiences and bring a finer control of virtual objects such as planes, cars, cranes, etc. Consequently, in the long run, the market will surely look up more and more for 6DOF on its simulators. When that happens, PaleBlue will be happy and ready to meet the new requests too.