(Dr. Bert Bras, advisor)
"Virtual Assembly Analysis: An Exploration into Virtual Object Interactions and Haptic Feedback"
In recent years, researchers have developed virtual environments, which allow more realistic human-computer interactions and have become increasingly popular for engineering applications such as computer-aided design and process evaluation. For instance, the demand for product service, remanufacture, and recycling has forced companies to consider ease of assembly and disassembly during the design phase of their products. Evaluating these processes in a virtual environment during the early stages of design not only increases the impact of design modifications on the final product, but also eliminates the time, cost, and material associated with the construction of physical prototypes. Although numerous virtual environments for assembly analysis exist or are under development, many provide only visual feedback. A real-time haptic simulation for the analysis of assembly and disassembly operations is currently under development, providing the designer with force and tactile feedback in addition to traditional visual feedback.
The development such a simulation requires the modeling of collisions between
virtual objects, which is a computationally expensive process. Also, the demands
of a real-time simulation incorporating haptic feedback introduce additional
complications for reliable collision detection. Therefore, the first objective
of this work will be to discover ways in which current collision detection libraries
can be improved or supplemented to create more robust interaction between virtual
objects. Using the simulation as a test bed, studies will then be conducted
to determine the usefulness of haptic feedback for analysis of assembly and
disassembly operations. Upon completion of the proposed research, the following
significant contributions will be presented: (1) a hybrid simulation combining
the strengths of constraints and impulses for modeling object interactions,
(2) a toolkit of supplemental techniques to support object interactions in situations
where collision detection algorithms commonly fail, and (3) a haptic assembly
and disassembly simulation useful for experimentation. Additional contributions
will include knowledge of the usability and functionality of current collision
detection libraries, the limitations of haptic feedback devices, and feedback
from experimental subjects regarding their comfort and overall satisfaction
with the simulation.