Virtual Reality Bobsled Simulator
That thing in the picture is a bobsled simulator. It's kind of like a flight simulator, but simulates driving a bobsled instead of flying a plane. An IBM workstation runs code which calculates the dynamics of the sled in real time. We feed the program track data (Lillehammer, Salt Lake City, Albertville, Calgary) and driver steering input, and it solves the equations of motion and draws a picture on the screen from the driver's point of view. Data is also sent from the workstation to a motion control system which plays a CD of the sounds of a bobsled going down a real run, rolls the cockpit, and provides force feedback to the driver through the steering handles.
The idea behind this project is to help train the United States Olympic Bobsled Team. With the simulator the drivers can take as many practice runs in a day as they like (as opposed to 4 or 5 runs maximum when training on ice), work on only one section of a track at a time, practice many different tracks without having to travel, compare their "lines" to other drivers, and get quantitative feedback on how they are doing after each run.
There are three versions of the bobsled simulator currently in operation: one in Lake Placid, NY at the United States Bobsled and Skeleton Federation's headquarters there, and another here in the lab in Davis. A third version has been built at U.C. Davis and installed in Park City, Utah, in preparation for for the 2002 Olympic Winter Games.
The bobsled simulator installed in the Day Lodge at the Utah Winter Sports Park.