Hi everyone, I just posted a request for help on this project in the technical support section, but I thought I would start a discussion here about the project in general because I think a lot of people might be interested.
First off, I am a mechanical engineer who just discovered Blender a month ago and I’m in love. This is really an impressive and powerful program and I am totally blown away by its quality, integrated software packages, nearly endless features, and I still can’t believe it’s free and open source. I’ve been silently, (and frustratingly) slaving away on tutorials and googling for information, but today I’m breaking the silence and reaching out to fellow Blenderers.
My goal is to use Blender as a simulation and visualization tool for professional engineering and hobbiest work, and university/highschool level mechatronics/computer science education - with an aim at interactive 3D physics simulations running simultaneously with real world hardware.
I’ve used expensive and proprietary software tools before to do mechatronics/robotics projects, but I love the idea of anyone being able to pick up what I’m doing and learn from it (or teach me from it). It seems to me - and I’ve seen the Blender for Robotics people agree - that Blender is a fantastic framework for all kinds of 3D work, and has a great development group to boot.
I’m starting off by trying to recreate an updated version of Justin Dailey’s “Real-time robotic arm controlled by Blender” project. http://justindailey.blogspot.com/201...botic-arm.html
I haven’t seen anybody try this project in Blender 2.5 yet. Since the API has been reworked I’ve had to start from scratch using Justin’s code as a guide. I’m at the point where my only major stubling block is getting Pyserial to work on a 64 bit Windows 7 machine - but that’s a topic for the troubleshooting forum.
I am also going to use Blender to control more than just RC servo motors, I have plans to do SLAM (Simultaneous Localization and Mapping) with some mobile platforms, run and simulate a 5 axis Scorbot ER-1 robot arm with encoder feedback dc motors, and a lot of other interesting things.
I know the Blender for Robotics project is working on improving Blender’s capabilities for more stable interactive IK and easier hardware interfacing (among other things), but I’ve had trouble finding up to date information on what’s going on. (I’m on the mailing list but haven’t heard any news yet.)
Some of the things that Blender could make very easy to do include dynamic modeling and refinement of complex control systems (things like Segways and walking robots), using physics simulations of an environment as a tool for AI decision making in the real world - in real time, building dynamic real-time 3D models of an environment using limited hardware and sensors. Many of these things are being done right now, but require very expensive and specialized software - but Blender already has fantastic real-time geometry handling, and many of the difficult problems that have been solved in Blender by video game developers, professional artists and animators, and contribution physics/computer science researchers, are extremely useful in the fields of engineering simulation and prototype development for tomorrow’s technologies.
Sorry for rambling on a bit, but I just wanted to get all these ideas out in the open and I thought this forum would be a good place for an up-to-date discussion :).
Any thoughts, suggestions, beratments?