Improvements in the Omni-Directional Treadmill: Summary Report and Recommendations for Future Development

Report No. ARL-TR-3958
Authors: Harrison P. Crowell III, Jim A. Faughn, Phuong K. Tran, and Patrick W. Wiley
Date/Pages: December 2006; 73 pages
Abstract: The omni-directional treadmill (ODT) is a device that converts a user?s movements into movements through a virtual environment. Its design allows users to move in any direction, which is important for simulations that require dismounted infantry Soldiers to move and exert themselves in much the same way that they would in the real world. This report provides details of the work done to improve the ODT. This work focused on four areas: (1) improvement of the tracking system?s accuracy, (2) reduction in the computational latency, (3) development of a new control scheme, and (4) reduction in the audible noise coming from the ODT. The ODT was improved in each of the focus areas. Items (1) through (3) allowed users to assume more of the postures (e.g., crouching) and motions (e.g., side stepping) that are common to dismounted Soldiers. These improvements also reduced false starts and overshooting of stops by the control system. Construction of an enclosure around the sides of the ODT substantially reduced the audible noise. Recommendations for development of a new ODT include making the area in which the user operates larger and making the device even quieter. In addition, the position-sensing and safety systems should be designed in such a way that the user has even more freedom of movement, and the control algorithm should be refined to allow users to make sharp turns and fine movements more easily.
Distribution: Approved for public release
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Last Update / Reviewed: December 1, 2006