The object of this project is to build a prototype 3-axis locomotion simulator, called an OmniTrekô, for use by dismounted infantry in virtual environments. Using the simulator, walking and running is to be simulated in a small area, including turning, climbing, and descending. The operating principle is that the user's feet are tracked and a footpad surface only slightly larger than the size of a human foot is placed in the correct position and velocity to be stepped upon. Robotic mechanisms are used to place and move each of the two footpads needed for the simulator. The footpads are designed to quickly retract into a flat working surface, so that the user can assume kneeling, prone, and other postures that require surface contact with the body. The user can be untethered and unencumbered.
The project began with computer simulation work, which continued through 1996, to develop the control algorithms and to model the behavior of the mechanical mechanisms. Construction, integration, test, and evaluation are now proceeding. Safety is one of the major concerns in the design of the moving mechanisms. Achieving accurate tracking at reasonable cost for the demonstration is another concern.
The OmniTrek will be delivered to the Government at the conclusion of the contract in 1998. A simple virtual environment using a head mounted display will be built to demonstrate the system, but not delivered. The OmniTrek will be designed to integrate with any virtual environment that can provide accurate low latency foot tracking.