Research in Modeling, Interactive Display and Virtual Prototyping

Several researchers at UNC are working on modeling, display, and simulation for computer-aided design, virtual environments, and prototyping. The goal is to develop systems for: 1) interactive walkthrough of large CAD models, and 2) interference detection, path planning, and dynamic simulation for virtual prototyping. Over the years we have implemented some of the lowest layers of the system and have seen large improvements in technologies related to model construction, interactive display, and collision detection. The ultimate goal is to create an environment in which the user can explore the complete model of a large design, e.g., a power plant, and check for interference in the same way he/she would in a real environment -- by walking around in it.

Virtual environments technology offers great potential in industrial concept design and evaluation, which is a critical step in the product development process. Unlike the current unnatural, inactive method of design evaluation, virtual environments technology allows us to view the conceptual design in full size and in an appropriate context. Along with design preview, virtual prototyping techniques have been used increasingly for maintainability studies, part design, dynamics simulation, and crash analysis.

We have been working on algorithms and software tools for interactive dynamic simulation and motion planning algorithms for virtual prototyping, manufacturing design and engineering analysis. Besides rapid prototyping design and physically-based modeling for synthetic environments, this work should also have a significant impact on engineering analysis and robotics. Our main contributions include fast algorithms for collision detection between geometric models, impact response, and path planning. These systems have been used for a number of applications, including threaded screw insertion, assembly maintainability studies, part removal, surgical simulation, and haptic rendering.

With machines obtained through the Technology for Education 2000 program, we are currently testing the applicability of graphics-accelerated Intel-based machines for real-time display and computation. Some research assistants are also using Intel PCs for development and debugging of software.

Further information may be found at these locations:

The Modeling research group's web pages
The Walkthrough Project web page
The Interactive Collision Detection Project web page

Last content review: 19 July 2001
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