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OHS Canada Magazine

Feature

Robotic simulator unveiled at CROSH

Made-in-Canada machine combines robotics and virtual reality


CROSH’s workplace simulator recreates workplace environments and conditions in a standardized laboratory setting. Wesley Young and Margaret Kanya-Forstner demonstrate its capabilities in Sudbury, Ont. (Photo by Tobias Mankis)

A made-in-Canada workplace simulator is a prime example of where the future of safety is heading.

Unveiled in December at Laurentian University’s Centre for Research in Occupational Health and Safety (CROSH) located in Sudbury, Ont., the machine combines robotics and virtual reality inside of a laboratory chamber to recreate various scenarios, such as underground mining situations.

The simulator is able to recreate precise workplace conditions, enabling the testing of equipment, systems and workers, says Dr. Alison Godwin, assistant professor at Laurentian.

“What we’re able to do is custom build and design the simulator to do what our clients need us to do,” she says. “Coming up with innovative solutions for industry — things to make the equipment better, the workflow better — those are the questions we can answer.”

The machine exposes users to heat stress and vibration exposure while testing for fitness, fatigue and situational awareness. The robotic chair simulates vibration, while the virtual reality eye-tracker component assists users in experiencing practical safety issues.

The environmental chamber can range in temperature from 40-below to 40 degrees Celsius, while a breathing apparatus allows for other occupational fitness quantifiers.

It is the only facility of its kind in the world, according to the university.

This feature was published alongside the cover story in the Jan/Feb 2020 issue of OHS Canada.