The December 2022 issue of IEEE Spectrum is here!

Close bar

Robot Arm Makes for the Most Awesome Flight Simulator Ever

This machine can simulate continuous rotation and g-forces, and no, it probably won't fit in your living room

1 min read
Robot Arm Makes for the Most Awesome Flight Simulator Ever

Yes, that's a dude playing around in an immersive flight simulator that's mounted on the end of a giant robot arm. It has 6 degrees of freedom, it can simulate continuous rotation and g-forces, and no, it probably won't fit in your living room.

Now, does that look like some serious puke-inducing fun, or what? The robot, essentially a heavily modified industrial arm, is at the center of Deakin University's Universal Motion Simulator (UMS), a facility specifically designed to train fighter pilots. While other simulators (like this Formula 1 system we wrote before) can provide some sense of motion, the UMS can generate up to 6 Gs of force, which you wouldn't otherwise experience outside of a high speed turn in a fighter jet (or maybe a rocket launch). And while this is all going on, the UMS will send back data on your vital signs to make sure that your eyeballs are still in their sockets.

When the Australians get a couple of these things up and running, they'll be linked together to let fighter pilots dogfight with their buddies. You're probably not invited to go play with them, but for a similar (albeit slightly less extreme) experience, you can always try out one of these instead.

[ Deakin University ]

Thanks Kyle!

The Conversation (0)

The Bionic-Hand Arms Race

The prosthetics industry is too focused on high-tech limbs that are complicated, costly, and often impractical

12 min read
Horizontal
A photograph of a young woman with brown eyes and neck length hair dyed rose gold sits at a white table. In one hand she holds a carbon fiber robotic arm and hand. Her other arm ends near her elbow. Her short sleeve shirt has a pattern on it of illustrated hands.

The author, Britt Young, holding her Ottobock bebionic bionic arm.

Gabriela Hasbun. Makeup: Maria Nguyen for MAC cosmetics; Hair: Joan Laqui for Living Proof
DarkGray

In Jules Verne’s 1865 novel From the Earth to the Moon, members of the fictitious Baltimore Gun Club, all disabled Civil War veterans, restlessly search for a new enemy to conquer. They had spent the war innovating new, deadlier weaponry. By the war’s end, with “not quite one arm between four persons, and exactly two legs between six,” these self-taught amputee-weaponsmiths decide to repurpose their skills toward a new projectile: a rocket ship.

The story of the Baltimore Gun Club propelling themselves to the moon is about the extraordinary masculine power of the veteran, who doesn’t simply “overcome” his disability; he derives power and ambition from it. Their “crutches, wooden legs, artificial arms, steel hooks, caoutchouc [rubber] jaws, silver craniums [and] platinum noses” don’t play leading roles in their personalities—they are merely tools on their bodies. These piecemeal men are unlikely crusaders of invention with an even more unlikely mission. And yet who better to design the next great leap in technology than men remade by technology themselves?

Keep Reading ↓Show less