The Usage and Impact of Linear Actuators in Motion Platforms and Simulators

Nowadays, modern technologies are always updated. We live in a modern world, the world of smart technologies, which can help you try everything. For example, such a great creation as the linear actuator can give you an opportunity to try various motion platforms and simulators. You may have heard a lot about video games or training simulators. But how these linear actuators can be used in motion platforms? In this article, we are going to look through the usage and impact of linear actuators in motion platforms and simulators.

Table of Contents

What Is a Motion Platform and How Does It Work

motion platform

6DoF motion platform

Actually, a motion platform (also known as a motion simulator) is such a kind of mechanism, which can make the feeling of being in a real motion atmosphere. The concept of a motion platform is the action synchronized with a visual display of the OTW (the outside world) scene. In general, a motion simulator provides the movement in all the 6 degrees of freedom (6Dof). It is usually used in such spheres as aircraft and spacecraft.

Stewart Platform and Its Features

As for the Stewart platform, it is a kind of parallel manipulator. It has 6 prismatic actuators (usually electric actuators or hydraulic jacks) fastened in pairs to 3 positions on the baseplate of the platform. These six prismatic actuators cross over to 3 mounting points on the top plate. If you place the device on the top plate, it will be moved in the 6 degrees of freedom. However, the Stewart platform is also known as 6 axis platform or 6 DOF motion platform. These platforms have applications in various spheres such as telescopes, mechanical bulls, flight simulators, underwater research, orthopedic surgery, machine tool technology, air-to-sea rescue, crane technology, and satellite dish positioning.

How Do Motion Platforms Actually Get Moving

In general, motion platforms use 6 hexapods (also known as jacks) giving all 6 degrees of freedom (6Dof), 3 rotations roll, yaw, and pitch including 3 translational motions surge (longitudinal), heave (up and down), and sway (sideways). Also, 6 DOF motion platforms are potent cues when matched with OTW (outside-world) imagery. These motion platforms are usually used in a driving simulation, little home-based simulators, flight simulations, and amusement rides.

motion platform principle of work

While using these platforms, the cockpit can simulate motion effects in airplane or vehicle simulators. With the help of them, it is feasible to imitate the forces acting upon the driver (pilot) during the journey (flight). The weight of the simulator cockpit is rather high (about 1.5 tonnes). It is provided with special audiovisual equipment and controls needful to reach high dynamic levels. Linear actuators of the platform can be implemented as hydraulic cylinders in simulation technology apps. Also, there are electric systems, which have higher energy efficacy, more sophisticated control methods, and lower noisiness. In such systems are usually used electric linear actuators instead of hydraulic cylinders.

Linear Actuators in Motion Bases

In fact, not so long ago, scientists started to cooperate to substitute the hydraulic rams in simulator motion bases with electric linear actuators.

electric linear actuators in motion platform

motion platform with linear actuators

Basically, linear actuators are special mechanical devices, which convert energy (taking power from the liquid, air, and electricity) to create motions in straight lines. There are several types of motion such as pulling, clamping, lifting, blocking, pushing, descending, and ejecting. Usually, in motion platforms is used the electromechanical linear actuator. It is grounded on converting rotary motion to linear motion through the ball screw.

Actually, it is more efficient and comfortable variant among other kinds of linear actuators. For example, in contrast with the mechanical linear actuator, in the electromechanical linear actuator, the control knob or handle is replaced with the electric motor.

Nowadays, there are many various companies that elaborate different designs of linear actuators and add specific features.

Popular Usage of Motion Platforms

Motion Platforms become more and more popular nowadays. Usually, motion platforms can be used in aircraft to train future pilots. Also, they can be used in a driving simulation for the drivers training. In fact, motion platforms are also used in video games and to enhance virtual reality. They can help future pilots and drivers to feel and try in a virtual reality everything they can face in a real situation.

Prototype Design and Analysis

Basically, motion platforms are used in the engineering sphere for verification and analyses of vehicle design and performance. The possibility to connect a computer-based dynamic model of the certain system to a physical motion gives the opportunity to see how the vehicle would react to control inputs without the necessity to produce expensive prototypes. When engineers design external fuel tanks for the aircraft could have pilots determine the impact on flying properties.

testing in flight simulation

Also, flight simulators can be used in aircraft manufacturing while testing new hardware. When a simulated cockpit with a visual screen is connected to a real flight control system in a lab, the pilot is integrated with the hydraulic, electrical, and mechanical components of the real aircraft. This is a very important point, as the complete system evaluation should be held before the initial flight testing.

As for the designs of motion platforms, they can vary, as every manufactory company has its models, schemes, and specific features.

Training Simulators

 

Nowadays, motion platforms are widely used in creating training simulators. The first sphere where they are used is aircraft. There are special flight simulators (also, there are homemade flight simulators for home usage), which can train pilots. They give an opportunity to feel all the conditions during flight. Also, these simulators can test their reaction to various problems during the flight.

The next sphere is driving. There are special driving simulators, which can help drivers to train their skills and reaction.

Simulators for Video Games

motion simulator

You may have heard a lot about video games. There are special simulators for video games such as joysticks, foot pedals, and steering wheels. Some games have utilized haptic technology to supply a real-time tactile feedback to the customer in a form of vibration from the controller. Also, there are special motion gaming chairs that can roll to the right and left, and throw backward and forward to imitate turning corners, decelerations, and accelerations. They can even provide with the physical correlation to sound and sight in games.

There are various video games and all of them may use VR motion platforms. For example, to play some video games you may need DIY motion simulator, motion racing simulator, motion flight simulator, etc.

VR Simulators

Basically, virtual reality simulators are tools used for people immersion in virtual reality with the aim of entertainment. A virtual amusement is not a computer with VR glasses and game content. VR motion platforms have many advantages such as using special means to strengthen the immersion effect, the wind effect, water spray, physical motion, vibration, etc.

Ride simulators and 4D Theaters

motion simulators 4D theaters

So, speaking about ride simulators and 4D theaters, they usually use the simulation of flight, ride, and other motions. In general, a simulator ride is a kind of fairground ride. In other words, you watch some movie and the cabin or the seat where you are sitting in moves in accordance with the picture you see. If you see the airplane flying somewhere, your seat will simulate the same moves and can be moved to the right, left, frontward, and backward. Usually, it is used a DIY 6dof motion platform with linear actuators in this sphere.

Where to Get Actuators for Your DIY Motion Simulator

Nowadays, there are many various manufacturing companies that elaborate and produce different kinds of actuators. You can buy any actuator for your DIY motion simulator on the Internet websites and online shops such as progressiveautomations.com, ebay.com, actuatorzone.com, etc.

So, as far as you can see, motion platforms with linear actuators are widely used nowadays. There are different manufacturing companies elaborating and producing various models of linear actuators. You can face motion simulators in many spheres of our life. It can be some training simulators such as flight simulators to train future pilots or driving simulators to train future drivers. Also, motion platforms are widely used for video games (joysticks, foot pedals, and steering wheels), for 3D cinema (VR glasses) and 4D theater (ride and flight simulators).

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