Since 2005, when Cruden built the world’s first professional-grade motorcycle simulator, our engineers have been working on hardware, software, motion cueing, vehicle dynamics, rendering and content for a realistic motorcycle simulator that can be used professionally by manufacturers, race teams, universities, research institutions and road safety organisations.
To see a video of the new Cruden B306-HMD motorcycle simulator click here.
To simulate motorcycle riding with authenticity, it has been necessary to create hardware and software more complex than that needed for a car simulator. Our package incorporates a 6-DOF motion system in hexapod configuration, depth-map sensors for rider body tracking, an extra stiff steering actuator and a Head Mounted Display (HMD) for visualisation.
Every driver uses essentially the same technique to control a car. This technique is also very intuitive and straightforward; direct car controller displacements (e.g. turning the wheel) result in corresponding direct car responses (e.g. driving a curved path). When riding a motorcycle, the control inputs from the rider are force-related instead of displacement-related. A rider controls the motorbike by exerting forces on the bike, for example by pushing (but usually not rotating!) the handlebar, or shifting his/her weight.
The motorcycle steering process is made even more difficult to mimic by the essential riding technique of counter-steering. Above a certain speed, in the instant before leaning into a corner, a rider initiates a turn by pushing on the inside handlebar: pushing left to go left or pushing right to go right. This might seem counter-intuitive but most riders counter-steer instinctively and are barely aware of their handlebar input.
Whereas every driver controls a vehicle roughly the same way, especially when handling is not ‘on the limit’, there is much more differentiation in riding styles on motorbikes. Consequently, for a motorcycle simulator to offer a realistic riding experience, it must cater for all these different riding styles.
Rudimentary motorcycle simulators of the past have attempted to mimic the effects of the rider moving weight in one direction or another by measuring with sensors any changes of pressure in the saddle or on the footrests. Cruden’s much more sophisticated system uses depth-map sensors to continuously detect exactly how the rider is positioned on the bike and uses this information to alter vehicle behaviour accordingly. To complement this, a very stiff steering actuator allows for realistic counter-steering capabilities.
Riding a motorcycle requires a very large field of view, both horizontally and vertically. This is because the rider has a much more unobstructed view on a motorcycle in comparison to a car, as well as because there is a tendency to look around more on a motorcycle. To cater for the large demand in field of view, one would have to design a very big projection system, which would have to be placed relatively close to the rider. This approach has various practical and cost disadvantages.
Cruden has therefore equipped its motorcycle simulator, the B306-HMD, with a Head Mounted Display (HMD) instead. This device offers a virtually unlimited field of view. With an HMD, unprecedented levels of immersion are reached. The rider is visually completely isolated from the real world but does feel the real motorcycle where he/she sees the virtual motorcycle, due to the highly accurate graphics and perfect integration of the HMD into Cruden’s Panthera simulation software. This integration is such that the HMD responds to the user’s head movements, not to the movements of the motion platform.
Audio is important too. Click here to read about our sound recording with field recording experts from SONiC FUEL last year, using a Yamaha R6 and a Ducati 848 Evo.
This new simulator will be especially useful to scientists researching how to make motorcycling safer on the public road, which requires a better understanding of variances in individual rider technique and the interaction of the rider with the environment. The simulator will make possible detailed analysis of this in a controlled and safe environment. Cruden expects its simulator will also be of value in high-level rider training, racing simulations and fine-tuning vehicle dynamics.
The B306-HMD motorcycle simulator is available now. Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more.