VSimulators: Human factors simulation for motion and serviceability in the built environment

Lead Research Organisation: University of Exeter
Department Name: Engineering Computer Science and Maths

Abstract

VSimulators is a worldwide unique facility for exploring how people experience motion and vibrations in the build environment, such as sway in tall buildings, vibration of lively floors, or movement of footbridges. The facility consists of a pair of simulators located at the Universities of Bath and Exeter providing complementary capability in mimicking motion and environmental factors in the built environment. Using hydraulic actuators driving a climate controlled room, the Bath machine can simulate biaxial movement at ultra-low frequencies with large amplitudes primarily to study comfort and health of occupants in tall and super tall buildings which are proliferating in cities across the world. The Exeter machine uses a 6-axis electric 'hexapod' actuation system supporting a rigid 4 meter square platform. This will simulate multi-axis motion primarily to study comfort of humans using footbridges, floors and grandstands vibrating in response to occupant dynamic forces. The Bath machine will incorporate peripheral video displays of internal and external environment, systems for sophisticated environmental control and measurement of occupant physiological and psychological reactions, while the Exeter machine will use sophisticated virtual reality and full capability for force identification and motion capture of occupants. Using shared equipment (e.g. treadmills, inertial sensors, optical motion capture) and technical support the complementary capabilities will be applied to research human-structure interaction (based upon human comfort, well-being and productivity), assisted mobility and rehabilitation and populate a spectrum of vibration serviceability guidance.
The facility will provide a worldwide unique capability available to researchers and practitioners from a range of industries and backgrounds. Together with this multi-disciplinary network of people, VSimulators' unique capability will transform what research we are able to do and how we carry out that research.

Planned Impact

The primary beneficiaries will be both the designers and owners of built infrastructure (buildings, footbridges, floors and grandstands) who will have reliable guidance for meeting user comfort requirements, and the users themselves (office workers, building inhabitants, concert goers, etc) whose health, well-being and comfort will be improved as a result.
Built infrastructures includes tall and super-tall buildings for which occupant comfort, health and well-being in horizontal wind-induced sway is becoming the governing factor in design. It also includes; floors in a range of uses where vertical vibrations render them unusable; footbridges, where lively behaviour remains a concern for efficient and aesthetic high-profile structures with long spans, and; grandstands where complex behaviour of groups and crowds of spectators interact with the structure to create uncomfortable and potentially unsafe conditions.
The two machines will be used together to generate a comprehensive data that will inform organisations and standards committees to enable updating and creation of design codes and guides used for these structures which properly account for situation and environment dependency. It will also be of use to engineers, architects, contractors and clients for bespoke design of specific structures incorporating users directly in the design process.
The improvement in the environment which building users find themselves in, whether at work or at rest, will lead to improved comfort and well-being, leading to increased productivity, directly benefiting the UK economy and reduced sickness and absenteeism, benefiting the health system.
VSimulators will provide the best possible capability to identify mechanisms for observed feedback loops between human loading and structural motion. This coupled feedback can both enhance or reduce effects of their loading. This will provide designers with the knowledge required to improve serviceability behaviour by either engaging or preventing these effects.
Engagement with healthcare professionals and researchers has indicated significant potential for impact in rehabilitation and assisted mobility. VSimulators will enable research in strategies to get mobility-challenged people to move around more freely improving their health and wellbeing.
There is also a range of potential impacts in areas where virtual reality is only beginning to find applications, for example in performing delicate manual operations (surgery, instrument repair, scientific experiments) in moving environments including a wide range of vehicles.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Description CDT scoping workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in a scoping workshop with academic and industry contacts in London in November 2017. The workshop was to establish industry needs and come up with an informed Expression of Interest for a Centre for Doctoral Training application to the EPSRC.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description CIRIA RP1066 SHM for civil infrastructure second PSG meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact CIRIA RP1066 SHM for civil infrastructure second PSG meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Combined PEOC/University MSK Research Meeting 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Combined PEOC/University MSK Research Meeting
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Heather Macklyne EPSRC visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact There was a visit by Heather Macklyne Portfolio Manager: Ground engineering, Structural engineering, Built environment, Infrastructure and urban systems. She held two open sessions including a grant writing session for early career researchers. She also visited the Structures Lab, tried out the virtual reality kit and learnt about the EPSRC VSimulators project.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description John Rees visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Visit by John Rees at COWI, who presented to students and staff about notable engineering projects.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Kenny Kwok visit 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an open day or visit at my research institution
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Visit by Kenny Kwok of the University of Sydney, who presented on The fundamental human response to wind-induced building motion - Misunderstood and under-researched areas.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Medical School presentation 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact VSimulators presentation to UoE medical School St Lukes in March 2017. Proposal scoping
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description VSimulator design team meetings 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Meeting with industry partners to develop detailed specifications for VSimulators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description VSimulators presentations to University of Exeter Medical School 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Third sector organisations
Results and Impact Presentation to the University of Exeter Medical School about VSimulators
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
 
Description Vibration Serviceability of Tall Timber Buildings workshop 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Participation in Vibration Serviceability of Tall Timber Buildings workshop with academic and industry contacts. The workshop aimed to generate ideas for future research bids based on industry needs.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
 
Description WES conference 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Conference of the Wind Engineering Society on 4th September 2018.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2018
URL https://engineering.leeds.ac.uk/events/event/305/wind-engineering-society-13th-conference