Title:
Seat-driving device for simulation system
Kind Code:
A1


Abstract:
A seat driving device of a simulation system for driving a seat on which a user of the simulation system sits is provided. The seat driving device includes a first member having a spherical surface, a second member making a relative motion with respect to the first member, two wheels rotatably coupled to the second member and rolling on and contacting the spherical surface of the first member, and two driving motors installed on the second member and connected to the wheels to rotate the wheels. The seat is installed on one of the first and second members.



Inventors:
Chang, Young Jun (Seoul, KR)
Lee, Jonathan (Fortlee, NJ, US)
Application Number:
11/218404
Publication Date:
03/08/2007
Filing Date:
09/02/2005
Primary Class:
Other Classes:
482/61
International Classes:
A63B69/16; A63H33/22
View Patent Images:
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Primary Examiner:
CARLOS, ALVIN LEABRES
Attorney, Agent or Firm:
Nixon Peabody LLP (San Francisco, CA, US)
Claims:
What is claimed is:

1. A seat driving device of a simulation system for driving a seat on which a user of the simulation system sits, the seat driving device comprising: a first member having a spherical surface; a second member making a relative motion with respect to the first member; two wheels rotatably coupled to the second member and rolling on and contacting the spherical surface of the first member; and two driving motors installed on the second member and connected to the wheels to rotate the wheels, wherein the seat is installed on one of the first and second members.

2. The seat driving device of claim 1, wherein axes about which the wheels rotate are located within substantially the same plane.

3. The seat driving device of claim 1, wherein: the first member is supported to be rotatable with respect to a bottom surface of a building where the simulation system is installed; and since the seat is installed on the first member, the first member which rolls on and contacts the wheels is rotated by the wheels rotated by the driving motors, so that the seat is rotated.

4. The seat driving device of claim 3, further comprising: a rotating support supporting the second member to be rotatable with respect to the bottom surface of the building about an axis that is perpendicular to the bottom surface of the building and passes through a center point of the spherical surface of the first member; a moving element installed on the second member and movable between a first position which presses down on the bottom surface of the building to prevent the second member from rotating and a second position which is separated from the bottom surface of the building to allow the second member to rotate; and a driving source moving the moving element.

5. The seat driving device of claim 3, wherein the axes about which the wheels rotate are parallel to tangent lines at points where the wheels touch the spherical surface.

6. The seat driving device of claim 1, wherein: the second member is supported to be rotatable with respect to a bottom surface of a building where the simulation system is installed; and since the seat is installed on the second member, and the first member is fixed onto the bottom surface of the building, the wheels which roll on and contact the first member are rotated on the spherical surface of the first member by the driving motors, so that the seat is rotated.

7. The seat driving device of claim 6, wherein the second member comprises: a motor coupling portion on which the driving motors are installed; a seat coupling portion on which the seat is installed, the seat coupling portion rotatably coupled to the first member; and a clutch selectively blocking a mechanical connection between the motor coupling portion and the seat coupling portion.

Description:

BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION

1. Field of the Invention

The present invention relates to a seat-driving device of a simulation system, and more particularly, to a seat-driving device of a simulation system which has an improved structure in which a moving or rotation range of a seat depending on a manipulation of a user greatly increases.

2. Description of the Related Art

Simulation systems provide an indirect experience to a user by artificially creating circumstances that can actually occur using computers. Examples of the simulation systems include flight simulation systems, driving simulation systems, etc. It is important for a simulation system to precisely reproduce various circumstances so that a user can feel the sense of the reality and the feeling of movement as much closely to an actual circumstance as possible. To accomplish reproduction of circumstances close to actual circumstances by simulation systems, it is very important to develop software by which a displayed image changes according to a manipulation of a user and hardware, that is, a driving mechanism, for promptly making a motion based on a mathematical model of a moving body, such as, an automobile, an airplane, etc.

A flight simulation system for use in PCs is an example of a conventional simulation system. In the flight simulation system for use in PCs, no special mechanism for moving or rotating a simulation user is not included, and only a displayed image changes according to software. However, this flight simulation system does not provide a realistic simulation because there are no physical motions of the simulation user. To supplement this disadvantage, that is, to provide a more realistic simulation, the simulation system needs to give physical motions to the user of the simulation system. The physical motions are made by moving, rotating, or vibrating a seat for the user of the simulation system or using other methods.

Various types of simulation systems in which a simulation user can move physically have been proposed, for example, a simulation system disclosed in U.S. Pat. No. 5,240,417. In this conventional simulation system, a seat for a user or the like is supposed to move or rotate using a motor or a hydraulic device driven according to a manipulation of the user. However, the conventional system has difficulty providing a realistic simulation because a moving or rotating range of the seat is significantly restricted.

There remains a demand for a seat-driving device to be used in a simulation system capable of providing a more realistic simulation.

SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION

The present invention provides a seat-driving device of a simulation system which can achieve realistic simulation by greatly increasing a moving or rotation range of a seat depending on a manipulation of a user and is applicable to simulations of various types of vehicles.

According to an aspect of the present invention, there is provided a seat driving device of a simulation system for driving a seat on which a user of the simulation system sits, the seat driving device including a first member having a spherical surface, a second member making a relative motion with respect to the first member, two wheels rotatably coupled to the second member and rolling on and contacting the spherical surface of the first member, and two driving motors installed on the second member and connected to the wheels to rotate the wheels. The seat is installed on one of the first and second members.

BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS

The above and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more apparent by describing in detail exemplary embodiments thereof with reference to the attached drawings in which:

FIG. 1 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a seat-driving device of a simulation system according to an embodiment of the present invention;

FIGS. 2A through 2H illustrate rotations of a first member shown in FIG. 1; and

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a seat-driving device of a simulation system according to another embodiment of the present invention.

DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION

Referring to FIG. 1, a seat-driving device of a simulation system 1 according to an embodiment of the present invention includes a first member 10 and a second member 20.

The first member 10 has a global shape. In this embodiment, the first member 10 has a perfect global shape. The first member 10 may be manufactured of metal. The first member 10 is preferably formed of engineering plastic or other lightweight materials to reduce the weight of the first member 10 and the rotational inertia.

A seat 40, on which a user of the simulation system 1 can sit, is installed within the first member 10.

The first member 10 includes a manipulator 14, a display 11, and a gyro sensor 12.

As shown in FIG. 1, the manipulator 14 has a control lever shape and is combined with the seat 40 so that the user of the simulation system 1 can manipulate the simulation system 1 on the seat 40 using the manipulator 14. The manipulator 14 may be a manipulatable remote controller separated from the seat 40. In some cases, the manipulator 14 may not be included in the simulation system 1.

The display 11 is located in front of the user of the simulation system 1 so that the user can always see the-display 11. In some cases, a sound reproducing device which can reproduce a sound corresponding to an image reproduced by the display 11 may be installed together with the display 11.

Since the first member 10 has a moment of inertia, it is important to know an exact rotational speed and an exact position of the first member 10. Hence, the gyro sensor 12 is installed within the first member 10.

The first member 10 is supported by a support 60 so as to be rotatable with respect to a bottom surface 90 of a building where the simulation system 1 is installed. A center of the support 60 is void to receive the second member 20, and an upper inner circumferential surface 67 thereof is concave with a curvature corresponding to a curvature of an outer circumferential surface of the first member 10. A plurality of balls 65, which rolls and contracts the outer circumferential surface of the first member 10, are installed on the upper inner circumferential surface 67 of the support 60.

Preferably, an upper support 50 is installed on the first member 10 to prevent the first member 10 from being detached from the support 60.

The second member 20 can make a relative motion with respect to the first member 10. Two wheels 30 and 31 are coupled to the second member 20, and two driving motors 35 and 36 are installed within the second member 20.

The two wheels 30 and 31 are coupled to the second member 20 to be rotatable with respect to the second member 20 and roll on and contact the outer circumferential surface of the first member 10. The entire surface of each of the wheels 30 and 31 or at least a portion of each of the wheels 30 and 31 that contacts the first member 10 is manufactured of a material having a high friction coefficient with respect to the outer circumferential surface of the first member 10, such as, compressed rubber.

Central axes of rotation of the wheels 30 and 31 are placed within a single plane. This means that the wheels 30 and 31 are symmetrical to each other with respect to a vertical line passing through the center of the first member 10. The central axes of rotation of the wheels 30 and 31 are parallel to tangents at points where the wheels 30 and 31 touch a spherical surface of the first member 10. In other words, a straight line that connects between the center of the first member 10 and each of the points where the wheels 30 and 31 touch the spherical surface of the first member 10 is perpendicular to the central axes of rotations of the wheels 30 and 31.

The two driving motors 35 and 36 are connected to the wheels 30 and 31 and rotate them.

In this embodiment, the second member 20 exists under the first member 10 and is installed within the support 60. the second member 20 is installed on a disk-shaped rotating support 21 fixed to the bottom surface 90 to be rotatable by a shaft 24 and bearings 25.

The second member 20 includes a moving element 22 and a driving source 23 for moving the moving element 22. The moving element 22 is driven by the driving source 23 to move between a first position that presses down on the bottom surface 90 to prevent rotation of the second member 20 and a second position that is separated from the bottom surface 90 to allow rotation of the second member 20.

A solenoid may be properly used as the driving source 23. Other motors may also be used as the driving source 23.

An operation and advantages of the seat-driving device will now be described in greater detail. When the user issues a command requiring rotation using the manipulator 14, the driving motors 35 and 36 are driven, and accordingly, the wheels 30 and 31 are rotated. When the wheels 30 and 31 rotate, rotational forces of the wheels 30 and 31 are transmitted to the first member 10 due to a frictional force between each of the wheels 30 and 31 and the outer circumferential surface of the first member 10 on which the wheels 30 and 31 roll and contact. Hence, the first member 10 is rotated, and thus the seat 40 installed in the first member 10 is rotated. rotational speeds and directions of the wheels 30 and 31 and a rotational speed and a direction of the first member 10 are controlled by a manipulation of the manipulator 14 or according to a pre-input program.

During simulation, images and the like are updated in real time and displayed on the display 11, so that a user can undergo a realistic simulation.

A principle in which the first member 10 is rotated by a rotation of the wheels 30 and 31 will now be described in detail with reference to FIGS. 2A through 2H. FIGS. 2A through 2H are bottom views of the simulation system 1. Since the seat 40 installed in the first member 10 is rotated by a rotation of the first member 10, only the wheels 30 and 31 and the first member 10 are illustrated in FIGS. 2A through 2H.

First, coordinate axes and rotational directions are defined for convenience of explanation. As shown in FIG. 1, an axis corresponding to a forward and backward direction of the user sitting on the seat 40 is defined by an x-axis, an axis corresponding to a left and right direction of the user sitting on the seat 40 is defined by a y-axis, and an axis corresponding to an upward and downward direction of the user sitting on the seat 40 is defined by a z-axis. A rotation in one direction at the center point of the first member 10 about the +x axis is defined by a rotation in a+rx direction, and a rotation in the other direction at the center point of the first member 10 about the +x axis is defined by a rotation in a −rx direction. This rotation definition rule is equally applied to the y-axis and the z-axis.

When the wheels 30 and 31 rotate at the same speed and in the same direction as shown in FIGS. 2A and 2B, the first member 10 rotates about the x-axis. Depending on a rotational direction of the wheels 30 and 31, the first member 10 may rotate either in the +rx direction as shown in FIG. 2A or the −rx direction as shown in FIG. 2B.

When the wheels 30 and 31 rotate at the same speed and in different directions as shown in FIGS. 2C and 2D, the first member 10 rotates about the z-axis. Depending on a rotational direction of the wheels 30 and 31, the first member 10 may rotate either in a +rz direction as shown in FIG. 2C or the −rz direction as shown in FIG. 2D.

When the first member 10 is desired to rotate about the y-axis, the moving element 22 is moved to the second position separated from the bottom surface 90 by the driving source 23 included in the second member 20 so that rotation of the second member 20 is allowed. When the two wheels 30 and 31 are rotated in directions as shown in FIG. 2E, a difference between the moments of inertia of the first and second members 10 and 20 due to a difference between weights thereof causes the second member 20 instead of the first member 10 to rotate about the shaft 24 and the rotation axis of the first member 10 to change as shown in FIG. 2F or 2G. When the axis about which the first member 10 rotates is changed as shown in FIG. 2F or 2G, the driving source 23 included in the second member 20 is re-driven to move the moving element 22 at the second position to the first position, so that the moving member 22 presses down on the bottom surface 90. Thus, the rotation of the second member 20 is prevented.

In a state where the rotation of the second member 20 is hindered as described above, when the wheels 30 and 31 rotate at the same speed and in the same direction as shown in FIGS. 2F and 2G, the first member 10 rotates about the y-axis. Even in this case, as in the rotation in the +rx or −rx direction, the first member 10 may rotate either in the +ry direction as shown in FIG. 2G or the −ry direction as shown in FIG. 2F depending on a rotational direction of the wheels 30 and 31.

Although cases where the two wheels 30 and 31 rotate in the same direction have been illustrated in FIGS. 2A through 2G, the two wheels 30 and 31 may be rotated at different speeds to accomplish a complex rotation (i.e., a rotation about an arbitrary axis). For example, when the wheel 30 is at a standstill or rotates slowly and the wheel 31 rotates in the same direction as that of the wheel 30 but at a speed greatly higher than the wheel 30 as shown in FIG. 2H, the first member 10 rotates along a complicate trajectory with a continuous change of the rotational axis of the first member 10. If the difference between the rotational speeds of the two wheels 30 and 31 is appropriately adjusted, the first member 10 may be rotated about a rotational axis slanting in an arbitrary direction. When the two wheels 30 and 31 rotate in different directions and at different speeds, the first member 10 may have a more complicate rotation trajectory than when the two wheels 30 and 31 rotate in the same direction but at different speeds.

Due to such a rotation of the seat 40, a user of the simulation system 1 experiences a rotation about one of the y-axis, the x-axis, and the z-axis or an arbitrary axis on a space defined by the axes in a coordinate established with the seat 40 as its center as shown in FIG. 1. Thus, a more realistic simulation is achieved.

In most applied fields, such as, an automobile or motorcycle driving simulation, an airplane operating simulation, or a roller coaster, a sharp rotation about the y-axis, that is, a rolling in the right and left directions of the seat 40, rarely occurs. Generally, the rotation about the y-axis is mixed with rotations about the other axes. Hence, a pure rotation about the y-axis may not be needed during actual simulation, because a desired rotation can be obtained from a complicate rotation (i.e., a rotation about an arbitrary axis) as described below. In the above-described applied fields, the rotating support 21, the moving element 22, and the driving source 23 may not be needed.

FIG. 3 is a schematic cross-sectional view of a seat-driving device 201 of a simulation system according to another embodiment of the present invention. A description of the seat-driving device 201 is focused on elements different from those of the seat-driving device of FIG. 1. The description about the seat-driving device of FIG. 1 is equally applied to elements-of the seat-driving device 201 that are not described. Alternatively, the description about the seat-driving device of FIG. 1 is properly modified and applied to the not-described elements of the seat-driving device 201. Like reference numerals are used to indicate elements that play like technical roles.

Similar to the seat-driving device of FIG. 1, the seat-driving device 201 of FIG. 3 includes a first member 210 and a second member 220. The first member 210 has a spherical surface and is fixed to a bottom surface 290 of a building where a simulation system is installed.

The second member 220 is installed to be rotatable with respect to the bottom surface 290. Two wheels 230 and 231 are coupled to the second member 220 and roll on and contact the spherical surface of the first member 210. The second member 220 includes a motor coupling portion 221, a seat coupling portion 222, and a clutch 225.

Two driving motors 235 and 236 for rotating the wheels 230 and 231 are installed on the motor coupling portion 221.

A seat 240 on which a user of the simulation system sits is installed on the seat coupling portion 222.

The clutch 225 is installed between the motor coupling portion 221 and the seat coupling portion 222 and either connects or disconnects the motor coupling portion 221 and the seat coupling portion 222. An electronic clutch may be used as the clutch 225. Other well-known clutches may be used as the clutch 225.

A display 211, which a user of the simulation system sees, is installed in front of the seat 240. The display 211 is not necessarily installed on the seat 240 but can be installed at a position where the display 211 can be seen by the user of the simulation system and rotate together with a rotation of the seat 240, that is, at a position not causing a relative movement between the seat 240 and the display 211.

An operation and advantages of the seat-driving device 201 will now be described. Since the first member 210 is fixed onto the bottom surface 290, and the second member 220 can make a relative movement with respect to the first member 210, the wheels 230 and 231 installed on the second member 220 are rotated on the spherical surface of the first member 210 by the driving motors 235 and 236. Accordingly, the seat 240 is also rotated.

A mechanism for rotating the seat 240 is similar to what is described wit reference to FIGS. 2A through 2H. However, to rotate the seat 40 in the ry direction, in the embodiment of FIG. 1, the second member 20 is rotated without a rotation of the first member 10 by moving the moving element 22 included in the second member 20, and the rotational axis of the seat 40 is thus changed. On the other hand, to rotate the seat 240 in the ry direction, in the present embodiment, the seat coupling portion 222 and the motor coupling portion 221 are mechanically disconnected using the clutch 225, and then the wheels 230 and 231 are rotated at an identical speed and in different directions, so that only the motor coupling portion 221 and the wheels 230 and 231 rotate about the z-axis to thus change the rotational axis of the seat 240.

While the present invention has been particularly shown and described with reference to exemplary embodiments thereof, it will be understood by those of ordinary skill in the art that various changes in form and details may be made therein without departing from the spirit and scope of the present invention as defined by the following claims.

As described above, the present invention can provide a seat driving device for a simulation system which realistically simulates driving of vehicles, such as, airplanes, spacecrafts, automobiles, or motorcycles, riding of roller coasters, etc. In particular, the simulation system can embody a user's feeling of a free rotation in 3 axial directions using only two wheels, so that the structure of the simulation system is very simple.

The present invention is applicable to games, such as, console box games or mobile games. When a user watches a movie sitting on a seat of the simulation system, he or she can enjoy more realistic images because the seat makes proper rotations depending on images. In other words, the present invention is also applicable to multi-media systems.