2016 – Various – Haptic Floor for Motion Table – Team 10

About This Project

Students were tasked with designing a haptic feedback floor for an existing motion table. The floor will need to provide feedback for a virtual reality system. For example, if in the virtual world, the user steps onto a muddy surface, the feedback system will simulate a softer step than if the user were to be walking on a sidewalk.  The end goal of this project is to simulate different environments to the degree of accuracy required to fool the human mind while engaged in a virtual reality experiment.

The Virtual Terrain Simulator (also known as the VTS system) is a system that allows an individual to experience different types of ground surfaces throughout their virtual reality exploration. As you make your way through the VR world you will be able to feel the softness of the ground change beneath your feet. This has been made possible by pneumatic bladders that are precisely monitored by our Arduino system. Each bladder has a hexagon plate attached to the top allowing it to manipulate different sections of the floor. The floor will be designed to be used on and off of a motion platform. The motion platform was previously a successful Kickstarter project designed by a group of Mechanical Engineers from the University of Maine in 2015.

The Exisisting Motion Table at VEMI

Our Kickstarter

Please view our kickstarter page for more information on our project, or to make a donation.


9/22/15 – Discussed previously used haptic technologies & researched potential solution ideas.

10/6/15 – Discussed with VEMI characteristics of the table (weight limit, size, etc) & clarified what types of terrain they are seeking to generate.

10/16/15 – Brainstormed solution concepts, came up with air bladders, tensioning systems, and hydraulic cylinders are potential solutions (see sketches below).

10/23/15 – Worked on interim report to present to VEMI containing solution concepts, cost analysis, and project timeline.

11/6/15 – Finished report, continued brainstorming/narrowing down ideas.

11/19/15 – Meeting with VEMI, discussed potential solutions, ideas, and cost.

12/1/15 – Gathered estimate of costs of materials, and began assembling parts list

12/8/15 – Discussed with team instructor the costs and usefullness of different types of valves & solenoids. Working on finalizing the parts list and cost analysis.

2/4/16 – Today we met with VEMI to discuss our prototypes thus far. We are experiencing difficulty sealing rubber around a hexagon shaped base.

Here we have our first prototype.  Blake attempted to create a soft feeling without pressure by putting a sponge under the rubber layer.

This prototype involved a bicycle inner tube with a cloth sock sewed around it to try and hold the pressure. The sock was unable to withstand the pressure and was the wrong shape, so this idea was more or less abandoned.

This was among our first completely failed prototypes. We were experimenting with epoxy to fold rubber around a wooden hexagon. Epoxy isn’t very strong in direct tension.

2/5/16 – We have two weeks to get a working prototype together for VEMI. We have received and ordered an air wedge, that would typically be used to unlock car doors.  The wedge becomes hard to the touch around 11 psi and can withstand a full sized person standing on it.

2/12/16 – Arno attempted to create a design involving a pressurized hose. This design failed because the hose was too firm to feel a difference when it was pressurized. We will be recreating this design with a different material hose soon. When the prototype was functioning, cloth was stretched over the top to create a smoother surface.

2/23/16 – Our electronic control valve came in today! We didn’t realize we needed to order a manifold for the valve as well. Once we have the manifold, we will be able to experiment with regulated pressure from a source, instead of the hand pump that came with the air wedge.

This design was an attempt to fix a hard surface to the top of an air wedge. The hexagon attached to the top would potentially be fixed with vertical sliding pins so as to create an even surface for the user to step on. This was unsuccessful mostly due to the size and shape of the air wedge itself.

These are pictures of the most current prototype. It involves three of the the air wedges hooked up together, to be controlled by our electronic control valve.  This design is the one that we will be presenting to VEMI this week to get their opinion.  The low pressure feedback with this design is seems to be relatively desireable. The final design would include 40-50 air wedges in total.

3/18/16 – A large portion of our materials are ordered. We will be using a waterjet process through the Univsersity to drill the necessary holes in our base plate. As soon as our materials are received, we will begin assembly of our final design.

4/7/16 – Our kickstarter is underway so that we will have the funding to purchase the rest of our valves. Currently, we are working on the layout of the bladders on the table and hope to finalize as much as possible before being able to order the rest of our valves.

4/15/16 – We have laid out a DXF file to have our 4×8 sheet of aluminum cut for the top and bottom portion of the table.

4/21/16 – The bladders will be laid out as shown on our aluminum cut outs. Here we are laying our the bladders on the original motion table. The 4×8 aluminum is scheduled to be cut on 4/25/16



Team Bios

Devon Dionne

I am a 4th year mechanical engineering technology student. I will graduate in December of 2016. Once I graduate I would like to work for Polaris designing Snowmobiles or motorcycles. I grew up in Mars Hill Maine where I spent most of the winter riding snowmobiles and the summer riding motorcycles. I have always enjoyed fixing my vehicles and thinking about ways they could be designed better, so I believed that mechanical engineering would be a good career path for me to take. I have spent the past two years balancing my time between school work and my job at Shaw and Tenney in Orono Maine. At my job I have learned how to operate a CNC router to produce various types of Oars. Other activities I enjoy doing are fishing, four wheeling, hunting, and snowmobiling.


Blake Bodwell

I’m currently in my fourth year at the University of Maine studying Mechanical Engineering Technology. I’m a proud graduate of Maine Region Ten Technical High School and Brunswick High School in Brunswick, Maine. The past two summers, I was able to gain a lot of experience with an internship at Fisher Engineering in Rockland, ME. My first summer, I supported the manufacturing of snowplows and sanders. My second summer, I implemented lean manufacturing techniques into a weld and assemble cell layout. Fisher has helped improve my analysis, design and build skills, as well as working effectively within a team. In my free time I like to buy used vehicles that typically need work to run. Both at home and at work I excel with hands-on problem solving, this is why Engineering Technology is a good fit for me. After college, I would like to work hard in a rewarding career for a company with a good purpose.


Arno Wirta

I am a fourth year Mechanical Engineering Technology student at the University of Maine.  I am from Houlton, ME and went to Hodgdon High School. Ever since I have been little, I have enjoyed playing with mechanically related things and trying to build things.  The past summer, I worked under an engineer at AJ Coleman, a general contractor based in Conway, NH. I gained valuable experience and knowledge about field engineering and some insight as to how large projects are managed.  In my spare time, I enjoy motorcycling, working on vehicles, dirtbiking, playing music, and snowmobiling.  After graduation, I am looking forward to working in my field of study and being able to use problem solving skills and critical thinking on a daily basis.


Travis J. Guay

Travis is a senior at the University of Maine pursuing a B.S. in Mechanical Engineering Technology. He comes from Biddeford, Maine where he grew up playing hockey and lacrosse. Over the past four years he has worked as an intern at Pratt & Whitney working on new types of manufacturing processes. At P&W he is currently working on a patent to help save time and money on a process that modifies the surface finish of vanes. He is very interested and enjoys working in aerospace and automotive fields of engineering. In his spare time he enjoys working on cars, snowboarding, and spending time with his family.



Sponsors and Donors


We are currently seeking donations through our kickstarter.

Individuals who donate over $100.00 will receive a 3D printed haptic floor as a token of our gratitude. Donations over 25.00 will receive a 3D printed keychain! However, any donation helps, even your spare pocket change!

If you would like to make a contribution please visit: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/travisguay/virtual-terrain-simulator