VSimulators at the University of Bath, a unique environmental chamber with projected virtual reality mounted on a sophisticated motion platform, is designed to test human responses to the built environment. It is part of a dual-site research facility developed in collaboration with the University of Exeter, where another motion simulator is housed. The facilities provide an environment capable of recreating the impact of subtle motion and vibration to enable a better understanding of how these factors affect people's well-being and health, and their work performance or behaviour. The multi-disciplinary facilities enable research into human comfort, motion acceptability, structural design, biophilic design and habituation among many other applications, such as supporting research into health, biomechanics, psychology and the use of immersive virtual reality.
The Bath VSimulators platform uniquely enables the accurate re-creation of large amplitude, low frequency wind-induced sway of tall and super-tall buildings. Coupled with a full environmental chamber which can manipulate temperature, humidity, lighting, air quality and sound, and immersive projected virtual reality, the facility enables the simulation of different surroundings, ranging from offices, hotel rooms and apartments. The facility is aimed at linking structural movement and environmental conditions, with human psychological and physiological responses, in a fully controllable environment. More information is available at the website: www.vsimulators.co.uk.
Dr Antony Darby is the project lead at the University of Bath. He is a Reader in Structural Engineering and Head of the Civil Engineering Group. His research over the last 25 years has focussed on dynamics and control of structures. Here Antony talks about partnering with Servotest on this critical part of the project:
"We required suppliers capable of working together with us to deliver a unique piece of equipment. They needed to be able to specify technological solutions capable of delivering our needs and help us define the specific requirements. Getting the specification right was key to the project, so we needed to be confident that our suppliers were able to deliver bespoke equipment to meet our requirements, some of which were quite stringent.”
"Discussions were held with many potential suppliers to understand capabilities and refine the specification. We were not asking for the impossible – but workable solutions and the right way to specify a system to get what we wanted. From ideas to solutions, we needed to work with our partners to understand the essential items.”
"This was something that had not been done before, and so with little precedent, we had to base our decision on trust - trust that Servotest were able to meet the technological and manufacturing requirements. It is an expensive bit of kit and it needed to be right.”
"Ultimately, other suppliers’ proposed systems were not successful due to issues with noise transmission & isolation requirements to minimise transmission . We had a number of meetings with Servotest, before design started, during development and after installation. It really helped define exactly what we wanted and iron out any issues. Health and safety requirements had to be considered as well as how we would interface with other parts of the system.”
"Ultimately, Servotest has delivered, and met the challenge of achieving our essential specification. There are still some tweaks required, but Servotest have spent time making sure it is as good as it can be.”
"Servotest have been diligent in making sure that the equipment meets our expectations. They acknowledged where things were not up to scratch and worked hard on finding solutions to problems. There is inevitably some compromise, but pragmatism required, and I am pleased with the outcome.”
“This was apparent particularly during the Factory acceptance & subsequent rework – where Glen Wardrop was especially tenacious and helpful in getting the system performing correctly.”
"There have been some slightly stressful times, probably both for us and Servotest, but overall Servotest have been responsive and diligent in working to meet our needs and meet their responsibilities to the project.”
"It’s certainly something that is different from what Servotest have done before, with the very low accelerations that we require, but I would be happy to recommend them as a reliable partner, both from a technological point of view and for the way they have interacted with us and supported what we have been trying to achieve. Overall, Servotest met my expectations, and I am pleased with the outcome!"
“Servotest also helped on launch day too – which was much appreciated.”