GO! Greaves 3D and igus take the lead in race to perfectly simulate motorsport

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A super-realistic racing
simulator has been developed by Greaves 3D Engineering that features 45 igus
bearings, linear rails, drives and e-chains. The University of Northampton is
using the simulator for deployment on its esports BSc degree course.

The driver grips the contoured
steering wheel lightly and adjusts the seat position forward, angled back. The
pedal box has an incredibly real feel; gunning the throttle awakens the senses.
Touch controls have reassuring feedback. You’re ready on the track, surround
screens close in, lights dim, the engine roars: a line of red lights; two
lines; THREE lines, TWO, ONE, ZERO: GO GO GO!! Pinned back by the raw force –
80mph, 120mph, 160mph reached in seconds. Lightly brake, sharp left, the
steering judders, throttle out the bend, long straight – foot to the floor! The
race is on.

This is not Nürburgring or
Silverstone but at the University of Northampton, where Greaves 3D
Engineering’s race simulator delivers one of the most realistic simulated
racing experiences available.

This is not Nürburgring or
Silverstone but at the University of Northampton, where Greaves 3D
Engineering’s race simulator delivers one of the most realistic simulated
racing experiences available.

It pulls the driver into the race
like they were actually there, using life-like feedback mechanisms in the
wheel, pedals and seat to give the driver a “haptic-like” feel of the car and
the track. The ultra-widescreen, triple monitor setup pulls forward to wrap the
track around the driver’s field of vision. A functional, stripped down design,
the simulator has been designed and built to give pure driving realism, more
than appearance and branding. Greaves’ simulator really works, as serious drivers
will attest.

Driving simulators typically
provide interactive movement in three axes to simulate the car’s movement.
“This doesn’t do that – it has three fully linked and adjustable screens that
provide the sense of movement,” says Rob Dumayne, director of bearing
technology at igus UK. “But the real heart of the simulator is the feedback

Feedback devices all over the rig
can simulate the seat and steering wheel position of every class of racing,
from entry-level karting to Formula One, so the driving position and handling
is matched identically to that race class. Lean the seat position right back
and down and you’re in an F1 car. Go upright and bring the pedal box into
range, it’s a Touring or rally car. Every element of the simulator can be
adjusted, and highly responsive feedback is at the heart of the machine.
Components like the steering wheel and the servo-motor fitted to it, which
provides the feedback, are the best in class.

igus motion plastics makes a
winning team

To enable these multi-positional
movements, Greaves turned to the motion plastics manufacturer, igus. igus
bearings, drylin W linear rails and energy chains help provide the simulator
with tiny, accurate and ultra-smooth movements.

“igus is involved with almost
every mechanism in the racing simulator,” Rob says. “There are 45 separate igus
products helping with the rig’s movement: the electronic seat in front and aft
movements, the seat pivot, and all the screen swivel and vertical movements,
use igus bearings and chains. A fully adjustable pedal box, where the pedals
give the driver feedback as well, is equipped with igus self-lubricating
bearings. Heights are adjusted using igus drylin W linear rails.” igus designed
and built a special control box to control the seat movement that incorporates
the igus D1 stepper motor control.

All igus bearings and chains are
lubrication-free, dry running motion products, perfect for motorsport
simulation. Racing is a high-end, sometimes luxury business and simulators are
used at racetracks – drivers do not want oil and grease to spoil expensive race
suits and boots.

Growing esport segment gives
race simulator a new market

Peterborough-based Greaves 3D
Engineering, one of the UK’s few race simulator manufacturers, partnered with igus
and the University of Northampton to give students on its esports BSc (Hons)
degree, and potentially other courses, use of the simulator. Students learn
aspects of digital gaming development including user experience, marketing,
broadcasting, media and esports coaching. The Greaves simulator is the perfect
advanced hardware to enrich the course.

David Meenan, Technical
Consultant at Greaves 3D Engineering, comments on the technical partnerships
involved. “The Greaves 3D simulator has been developed with a wealth of
knowledge from our design team drawing experience from various disciplines in
motorsport from karting to sportscars up to Formula 1,” “We have selected top
tier components from the front runners in the sim market, including Precision
Sim Engineering – LM Pro Steering wheel along with their bespoke dash. We
coupled this with a Leo Bodnar steering system, a pairing that gives the
ultimate racing car feel.

He adds, “We utilise the HPP
simulation race car spec pedal box with a bespoke sim racing hydraulic brake
system, that provides a realistic brake pedal feel which is critical to tuning
the feel on the simulator to match that of real race cars. Precision Sim
Engineering, Leo Bodnar and Packhorse flight cases have joined us alongside
igus to make this exciting project with UON a roaring success.”

The simulator is available to
both buy and lease. Traditional customers include race teams and motorsport
consultants, and now esport companies, software designers and universities add
to a widening market.

Portable and modular

The simulator is modular and
portable. It can be unpacked and re-packed safely with minimal training and is
designed to fold away and stow in a customised flight case with integrated ramp
for transportation. The unit unpacks and folds out simply, to be reassembled
and connected in minutes. Race teams are using the Greaves simulator at live
track events, as drivers can practice the course and fine-tune race settings
digitally before heading out to the car for real. This can save teams costs in
fuel and reduces risk of accident or damage in testing, and lets the drivers
sharpen their skills while waiting for bad weather to clear.

Igus has worked with Greaves 3D Engineering on the project for about two years and had provided all the bearings and e-chains in an exceptionally good value. igus can supply any product variation if the design needs modifying for a customer. Greaves 3D plans to continue promoting the rig to motorsport teams in the UK and abroad, while pushing on the fast-growing esports segment.

“The esports market has been growing for a number of years and Greaves 3D Engineering saw an opportunity for a more modular transportable solution to assist with the growing demands of this market,” says Jacob Greaves, Director, Greaves 3D Engineering. “With the help of our partners, we were able to achieve this. To then partner with the UON with their new esports degree course was a no-brainer.”