Mechanical Maintenance Of Trains In Virtual Reality

juicebottleAI and Robotics

Nov 14, 2013 (3 years and 4 months ago)


Interactive systems and devices are playing an increasingly important role in our daily lives and are the key to intel-
ligent applications of the future. As part of its Virtual Reality and Sensorial Interfaces Program, the CEA LIST’s Ro-
botics and Interactive Systems Department designs haptic interfaces and simulation tools to meet industrial needs
for virtual prototyping and mission planning.
Case Study

irtual Reality / Simulation
Mechanical Maintenance Of Trains In Virtual Reality
Virtual Reality For Maintenance Training Operations
CEA chose Virtools technology to develop their maintenance training application for a suspended train. Virtools
powerful and user-friendly development tools facilitated the creation of a realistic and precise simulation, recreating
actual conditions of maintenance in real time.

Virtools SA
93, rue Vieille du Temple
75003 Paris - FRANCE
Ph: (+33) 1 42 71 46 86 / Fax: (+33) 1 42 71 86 53

Virtools Canada Inc.
1250, Bvd Rene Levesque Ouest/Suite 2200
Montreal QC H3B 4W8 - CANADA
Ph: (+1) 514 989 3126 / Fax : (+1) 514 989 3127
The A
Based on highly detailed and realistic CAD models,
this application consists of studying the train’s me-
chanical maintainability through a force feedback Vir-
tual Reality system (project RNTL EMM-3D). Shown
here, the primary maintenance task is to replace the
transformer’s oil pump of the pendolino (suspended
train). This project is an RNTL project (fi nanced by the
French Ministry of Research) in partnership with AL-
STOM Transport.
The Challenge
The development tool
needed to verify that the 3D CAD
models could test the feasibility of maintenance and
ease of assembly/disassembly of strategic mechani-
cal parts. This evaluation takes into account: man (a
virtual mannequin), object dynamics (mass, inertia,
collisions…) and the tools.
More and more frequently, ALSTOM Transport is
asked by train companies to assume the responsibil-
ity of train maintenance. With increasing economic
constraints when it comes to exploiting transportation
networks, rail transportation companies that order this
type of equipment often focalize on the global cost of
purchasing, energy consumption, security and mainte-
nance of this equipment, as well as the availability of
replacement parts. ALSTOM’s clients are demanding
formal engagements in terms of these criteria.
Amongst these demands, transportation companies
are particularly demanding when it comes to depend-
ability and performance of train components. Dissas-
sembly and the accessibility of mechanical compo-
nents must be perfectly optimized. However, the com-
plexity integrated systems and the methods bureau
(which is meant to optimize the system’s construction)
are sometimes at odds with maintenance constraints.
ALSTOM’s service department wanted to develop a
visualization system compatible with their CAD soft-
ware (CATIA) and confi guration managements soft-
ware (VPM/ENOVIA) used by the methods bureau in
order to validate each phase of the mechanical disas-
sembly process. The service department also wanted
to be able to make modifi cations to the mechanical
components in real time to test and optimize different
confi gurations in order to speed up production and
The Solution
Virtual reality techniques used by the CEA relied on
the immersive Workbench platform by PERF-VR and
a force feedback device Virtuose 6D RV by Haption.
For this application, CEA chose industry standard
software and hardware for industrial design and main-
tenance, such as CATIA for the CAD software and
Havok for the physics calculations. Virtools Dev’s open
architecture and the Virtools OpenCAD (to import CAD
models via Deep Exploration fi le conversion software)
allowed CEA to continue working with their familiar
development tools without worrying about compatibil-
ity issues with the Virtools rendering engine. Virtools
Dev has standard behavior building blocks to obtain
of precise object data and their properties in real-time.
Virtools solutions were also chosen because they offer
the possibility of deploying an application in active or
passive stereoscopic projection, thanks to the building
blocks in the Virtools VR Pack.
Virtools Dev’s intuitive interface and graphic program-
ming system and visual scripting composed of editable
behavior building blocks (Schematic) allowed CEA to
program complex and precise scenario-development
applications, to simulate each stage of the assembly/
disassembly process. Virtools Dev also allowed CEA
to easily create commands for the virtual mannequin
(grabbing tools, moving…), break up the maintenance
tasks into basic maneuvers, and to mix 3D scenes with
a 2D menu interface. The operator training with this
application chooses from contextual menus which el-
ementary task is to be executed based on a particular
scenario. For each choice, different tools are loaded in
the interface in the form of menus, 2D buttons or help
items, so the operator learns in an intuitive manner
from the contextual information provided in the virtual
CEA also used the low level access provided by the
Virtools Dev SDK (in C++) in order to create new com-
ponents to meet their particular needs. The team de-
veloped components to allow the writing and sending
of messages between two machines so that manipula-
tions could occur interactively and coherently between
the different protagonists.

Virtools SA
93, rue Vieille du Temple
75003 Paris - FRANCE
Ph: (+33) 1 42 71 46 86 / Fax: (+33) 1 42 71 86 53

Virtools Canada Inc.
1250, Bvd Rene Levesque Ouest/Suite 2200
Montreal QC H3B 4W8 - CANADA
Ph: (+1) 514 989 3126 / Fax : (+1) 514 989 3127
Key Benefi ts
- Interactive 3D development platform optimized
for the integration of Virtual Reality peripherals
and displays (trackers, haptic devices, immer-
sive rooms, etc.)
Open Architec
ture to facilitate the integration of
industry standard third party software.

Ready to use behavior libraries to facilitate the
production of virtual reality applications

Low level access via the SDK (in C++) allowing
the clients to create components tailored to their
particular needs