Virtual Factory Modeling & Application of Haptics in Assistive Designing
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Virtual Reality aims to bridge the gap between the virtual and real worlds. Its application and scope can be seen in almost all disciplines today. However, one exciting area of the application of virtual reality is in the field of manufacturing and design. The existing work focuses on using virtual reality as a tool for designing large virtual factories. The objective is to make the virtual factory environment very useful, immersive and interactive for the designer. Haptics is revolutionizing the way engineers and designers interact with computers. The current work investigates the application of a haptic device as a means of assisting a designer while designing a large factory. The purpose of haptics is to assist the designer dynamically; the system suggests an optimum layout based on results from inbuilt algorithms. However, the final decision lies in the hands of the designer whether he/she finds the solution prompted by the system feasible. This haptic guidance in the virtual environment is achieved using the concept of "Potential Fields". The optimizations carried out include sequence and path optimization, and optimum grouping of machines, based on solutions from standard algorithms. All the simulations and tests are carried out using a Novint Falcon Device. In summary, the scope of the research work includes the creation of virtual factory designer software that can be used for conception, planning, design and analysis; the other aspect of this research is to explore the application of haptics inside a virtual factory for providing dynamic real-time assistance to designers.