Friday, June 3, 2016

Curiosity Physics Demo

Another video; made while testing out the physics engine scripting. This is my most complicated physics demo to date: a fairly complete mechanical model of the Curiosity Mars Rover:

Unlike the 'Atomic Caffeine' demo where you don't really notice that the behavior is a little un-physical, the rover is technically a real vehicle. And you can feel it go over every bump and step. There are moments I forget it's a simulation, and I built it.

Actually, this is what the rover would drive like if it lost independent steering on all four corner wheels (they're not supposed to just spin freely like a broken shopping-trolley wheel like that, they're supposed to be precisely controlled) and was being driven purely on differential speeds, like a treadless tank. You can see why NASA likes this configuration, it's very robust.

The 'hexcode' visual script editor has also come a long way in a short time. This was the initial build script, with a set of COLLADA model files containing the parts like wheels, chassis, camera mast, etc. arranged into 'reference frames' to check that everything was where it should be.

The new item/inventory system is working out well. Most of these designs are edited directly inside the browser from local storage. (No more google docs!) When I'm happy, a copy is uploaded to the web server for everyone to see.

Looks nice with an appropriate 'SkyShader' background, although Simulated Mars really hits the FPS, let me tell you.

The fully completed 'program' for the rover removes the heirarchy, (all frames are attached to the root) and then physical constraints are created between them.

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it's a visual programming language!

Quite a lot of progress. Only a day before, the first attempts to import the rover looked like this:


Other NASA models are also making an appearance in Astromech. The corner of the Deep Space Network 70m dish can be seen above, and here's the Z2 spacesuit standing on the bridge of my (fake) Starship Tyson over Simulated Mars.


That's actually the first "Avatar" in Astromech. The first humanoid figure in the system. And likely to become the default choice for user representation. Although in deference to the sensibilities of a friend of mine, I'm probably going to make a version in a gold lamé material.

Mentally queue track  "Journey of the Sorcerer" now.

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