Newsletter Issue 08

Camera and Action
Antonio Santos

In order to make a simulation that provides useful information for the operator who is doing the remote control, the Multi Terrain Loader has the main role. Right now the model and textures are finished, and it has a highly realistic look. The next steps for it to come alive are first of all its movements. An approach to be able to control the MTL on a common PC, would be using a keyboard and a mouse. This is a common approach taken by many video games, and allows to use both hands, one apart from the other to add comfort, and using very few buttons, so it is very simple. As also happens in many games, the keyboard could be used to control the movements of the MTL over the terrain, moving it forward, backward and making it turn left and right. Apart from this, the movements of the bucket could be controlled with the mouse, lifting it with the left click, moving it down with the right click and pitching it with the scroll.

Apart from the movement, the point of view is also very important to be aware of what happens around the MTL. An initial approach for this project will be having a 3rd person point of view, from the back of the MTL. With the mouse movement or other keyboard buttons such as Q and E, the camera could be rotated around the MTL, allowing the operator to see it from any angle. Depending on the operation to accomplish, different points of view are better in different cases.

More Road-bumps & Milestones
Matt Champer

This past week was a mix of success and more road-bumps. We had three things
to accomplish with our new approach to the simulation. The first was animated
materials, to give the impression that the dirt was moving around to the affect of
gravity within the bucket. The second was to scale-in (preferably on one axis) a
static mesh of dirt within the bucket, giving the illusion of material build-up. The
third was to fade in the berm growth along the slot that comes from the material
spillage out of the MTL’s bucket.

The first was very easy to accomplish, and we did with little to no problems.
The second took a bit of creative thinking, but was also rather easy to implement.
The third is where our road-bump comes in, and where the simulation is currently
be prevented from being fully fleshed-out. A lot of the old methods for doing so
are documented rather well on the web, but UDK has undergone several iterative
upgrades and patches since and these methods are now completely removed. My
goal by the end of the week is to find an appropriate work-around and to finish
the new simulation before the end of the week.

Building a Better Visualization
Samantha Collier

This week I have been working to get the new simulation ready. I have been working with Matt to make a
system to help operators have a better idea of the large amount of dirt they are moving. Not only do we
need to see how the materials look as it is left behind, but also what the materials in a pile look like,
either being added too or taken away from; as well has how to tell when are buck is full. This was brought
to our attention during our visit with Mike Taylor and Bob Shoop.

Also this week I have been working on animating the MTL so that it will move more realistic when it being
controlled by the operator. I am doing this by using the reference video we were giving earlier in this semester of the MTL here in Pittsburgh in action. Using the video for reference as been a big help in seeing
how the treads moves and the ways the MTL maneuvers around. Hopefully this aid will help use be able to
achieve a more realistically functioning MTL.

Rigging the MTL, SCAR Technology
Sean Brice

This week I’ve been busy creating and applying a rig for the Multi-Terrain Loader Model. For use in Unreal, the rig must be a single-tree hierarchy: every bone object must link back to a single core object. After I rigged it, I handed it off to Samantha for the animations that I will import into Unreal next week for testing and the start of user implementation.

As we are nearing the end of our semester, we need to start looking forward to where this project will go after we have finished. NREC (National Engineering Robotics Center) here at CMU has developed a system called SACR (Situational Awareness Through Colorized Ranging) that has the potential to further the project’s development. The use of the SACR technology would be beneficial as we might be able to use our models & textures as visual representations for the operator: as the sensors in the SACR system detect the material/terrain around the vehicle, it would call in our assets instead of using topographical data.

Vehicle System
Fuming Guo

My Unrealscript demo was finished by the weekend. It contains a demo map, which is done by the UDK Editor. I built the environment for this map, replaced “UTDeathMatch” with “GameInfo” for a non-fighting environment. I also built a custom class to display and test, the class contains a pawn object that could post the message on the screen. Also, I tested the way of calling Unreal run-time console commands through Unreal scripts. For example,toggle displaying octree in the map, etc.Now, this demo contains the following features:

1 – Individual running environment: the demo could be packed by Unreal FrontEnd tool and be published.
2 – Browsing feature: the gameinfo mode allows the end user to explore the map/scene in free flying mode, the free
controlling camera could go everywhere but also block the walls and obstacles.
3 – This framework is a base for adding more features in the future. UnrealScript is a programming language that is
highly modular. Every feature is fully individual and could be easily used by other modules and other modules could be added later.I have also started doing some study of vehicle building. I did the documentation for the artist to correctly model and rigging vehicles in 3D applications due to the different coordinate system in UDK.
Because of getting sick this week, my progress didn’t progress as ideal as hoped. Hope everything will be better next week

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