Simulation

Simulation environments are representing an important tool for the development of autonomous robot controls. In the following, various simulation tools and their application in research are presented.

SimVis3D

SimVis3D is a 3D simulation software, which is developed for the robot framework Finroc. It is based on Open-Inventor and the Newton physics engine and provides simulated sensors such as cameras, laser scanners, infrared, ultrasound or PMD sensors. A simulation scene integrates arbitrary 3D models, which are imported via an XML file and transferred to a scene graph. At runtime, a user can interact with the scene and change it via C ++ interfaces at runtime. The software was used to simulate a wide variety of robots, such as the mobile robots RAVON, MARVIN, ARTOS, the excavator THOR, or the running machine BIPED.

With SimVis3D the framework for the autonomous testing TAURUS was developed. It enables the specification of complex test cases. TAURUS tests consist of a scenario description that contains the navigation commands and a "mission" the robot has to perform. Various parameters of the simulated robot and its environment are recorded and used for the evaluation. If an invariant (e.g., timeout, collision, ...) is detected, this information is provided in a report after each run. TAURUS itself consists of a behavior network, which is connected between the running program and the user interface. It automatically controls the various test cases, sets parameters and configurations.

Ogre-PhysX

The Ogre-PhysX simulation was developed as a successor to the SimVis3D software. It is based on the graphics framework OGRE3D and NVIDIA PhysX and offers advanced performance and improved graphics. Complex search & rescue scenarios were simulated, in which complete houses with thousands of objects were dynamically simulated to carry out autonomous rescue and reconnaissance missions. Danger sources such as fire or unstable environmental segments were mapped with high performance, so that the robot controller could be optimized to adequately handle such situations. In addition to this scenario, equally large open worlds were implemented in which autonomous rides over long distances were made possible and farming processes were simulated.

The simulation was used for the control processing of the robots Gator, SUGV, and LUGV.

V-REP

The Virtual Robot Experimentation Platform (V-REP) is a simulation engine of Coppelia Robotics. It supports, among others, C / C++, Python, Lua, Octave, Urbi and Matlab. To simulate physics, various engines are available, such as Newton, Bullet, ODE or Vortex. V-REP interacts with the Finroc Framework by the use of a C++ interface. Finroc provides a V-REP plugin for this, but can also communicate via the Remote API.

Among other things, V-REP was used for the simulation of the Gator, Unimog, Backhoe and CARL. In addition to sensors such as 2D and 3D lasers, GNSS and IMU, characteristic sensor disturbances and effects were also implemented. Thus, for the determination of GNSS signals, real satellite data can be read out from Finroc and  noise by shadowing effects can be realistically calculated.

Unreal Engine 4

The Unreal Engine 4 is a professional game engine developed by Epic Games. The platform offers photorealistic rendering, VR connectivity, open world design, blueprint scripting and full C++ source access. Projects like NVIDIA FleX complement the existing PhysX engine with particle simulations. A marketplace provides access to a number of projects and content.

Finroc is realized as a Unreal project which starts the Finroc runtime environment and ports from the engine. It is possible to control and interact with robots in a complex, open, photorealistic world. The detailed simulation of sensor technology includes for example, typical camera-fades, -noise, or -blurring which have a wide influence on the controller in real systems.

Unreal is currently being used in road construction scenarios with the road rollers BW154 and BW147 for the AMMCOA project, where a few kilometers of the federal highway B10 are reconstructed and simulated. Likewise, Gator, Unimog, Backhoe and the environment detection of the mobile cranes of the SafeguARd project are tested virtually.

Relevant Publications

2018

Alexander Matheis
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Realistic Simulation of GPS Signal Quality for Autonomous Robots by using Virtual Satellites
Project Report, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2018, February 13, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf
Ganesh Sundaram
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Modelling and Simulation of Behaviour-Based Differential and Slippage Control for Unimog
Project Report, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2018, January 31, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf

2017

Hannes Endres
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Geländerekonstruktion basierend auf 3D-Punktwolken
Bachelor's Thesis, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2017, December 13, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf
Karsten Berns, Patrick Wolf
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Autonomie in unwegsamem Gelände. Aktuelle Zwischenergebnisse des CVC-Leitprojekts zum autonomen Fahrbetrieb von Nutzfahrzeugen im Off-Road Bereich
in CVC News, vol. 2, pp. 8--11, 2017, September
Marius Gräfe
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Automatic generation of a simulation environment from robot sensed data
Master's Thesis, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2017, September 29, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf
Philipp Feldmann
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Integration of GNSS / IMU into Unreal Engine and Finroc
Project Report, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2017, September 30, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf
Frank Schnicke
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Integration of the Finroc Framework into the Unreal Engine for Robot Simulation
Project Report, Robotics Research Lab, University of Kaiserslautern, 2017, September 30, Kaiserslautern, Germany, unpublished, supervised by Patrick Wolf

2015

Matthias Jung, Songlin Piao, Thiyagarajan, Purusothaman, Xiao Pan, Thomas Kuhn, Christoph Grimm, Karsten Berns, Norbert Wehn
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Virtual Development on Mixed Abstraction Levels: an Agricultural Vehicle Case Study
Synopsys Users Group(SNUG) Germany 2015, 2015

2014

Daniel Schmidt, Karsten Berns
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3D Realtime Simulation Framework for Wall-Climbing Robots - Towards the new Climbing Robot CREA
17th International Conference on Climbing and Walking Robots (CLAWAR), pp. 559-566, 2014, July 21-23, Poznan, Poland

2013

Daniel Schmidt, Karsten Berns
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Development and Applications of a Simulation Framework for a Wall-Climbing Robot
26th International Conference on Intelligent Robots and Systems (IROS), pp. 2321-2326, 2013, November 3-7, Tokyo Big Sight, Japan
Daniel Schmidt, Tamas Juhasz, Karsten Berns, Ulrich Schmucker
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Interconnection of the behavior-based control architecture and a detailed mechatronic machine model for realistic behavior verification of the Thor project
Informatik 2013, Springer, 2013, September 16-20, Koblenz, Germany

2012

Dr. Tamas Juhasz, Daniel Schmidt, Lisa Kiekbusch, Prof. Ulrich Schmucker, Prof. Karsten Berns
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Modellierung und verteilte Simulation eines autonomen Mobilbaggers
in Tagungsband Fachtagung Digitales Engineering zum Planen, Testen und Betreiben Technischer Systeme, pp. 123-130, 2012, June 26-28

2011

Syed Atif Mehdi, Jens Wettach, Karsten Berns
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A Simulated Environment for Elderly Care Robot
Pervasive and Embedded Computing and Communication Systems (PECCS), pp. 562-567, 2011, March 5-7, Vilamoura, Algarve, Portugal

2010

Jens Wettach, Daniel Schmidt, Karsten Berns
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Simulating Vehicle Kinematics with SimVis3D and Newton
Proceedings of the 2nd International Conference on Simulation, Modeling, and Programming for Autonomous Robots (SIMPAR'10), Springer-Verlag Berlin, pp. 156-167, 2010, November 15-18, Darmstadt, Germany, ISBN: 978-3-642-17318-9
Norbert Schmitz, Jochen Hirth, Karsten Berns
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A Simulation Framework for Human-Robot Interaction
Proceedings of the International Conferences on Advances in Computer-Human Interactions (ACHI), pp. 79-84, 2010, February 10-16, St. Maarten, Netherlands Antilles

2007

Tim Braun, Jens Wettach, Karsten Berns
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A Customizable, Multi-Host Simulation and Visualization Framework for Robot Applications
Proceedings of the 13th International Conference on Advanced Robotics (ICAR07), pp. 1105-1110, 2007, August 21-24, Jeju, Korea
T. Braun, J. Wettach, K. Berns
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A Customizable, Multi-Host Simulation and Visualization Framework for Robot Applications
Recent Progress in Robotics: Viable Robotic Service to Human, Selected papers from ICAR07, LNCIS Series, Springer-Verlag, vol. 370, pp. 357--369, 2007