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Simulating Soil for Heavy Machinery Training


Video Name

Simulating Soil for Heavy Machinery Training


NSERC Communications



Release Date

November 20, 2014


Serious Labs, an Edmonton-based company, specializes in simulators and e-learning technologies for training heavy machine operators. To provide trainees with the most realistic simulation possible, the company partnered with researchers from the University of Regina to develop computer models that accurately render soil. In the simulation, trainees sit in a console that recreates the cab of a bulldozer or a backhoe, and a screen in front of them shows a computer visualization of a worksite. Trainees operate the machinery, moving dirt from one location to another, practicing their skills in a virtual environment that emulates real world conditions.

Jason Seltzer Serious Labs is a company that specializes in training simulations and e-learning for training purposes in the construction, mining, and oil and gas industries.
Howard Hamilton Soil is very tricky to simulate because, if you think of it, the soil consists of millions of particles. It takes a lot of computation to move soil around. And at one level that doesn’t seem very important, but in the computer simulation, if the soil doesn’t move correctly, people will immediately be bothered by that, and it will take them away from the simulation that they’re in. So if they’re doing training, they want the simulation to look realistic.
Jason Seltzer The dirt technology that we’re talking about here is very speculative. It would be very high risk for our company to do on our own. This is a great way for us to kind of take some of that risk off of our shoulders.
Howard Hamilton With the Engage Grant, the idea was that we set up a preliminary collaboration with a company we had never worked with before. It was a very nice extension of our work that we had already been doing, but it applied directly to a problem of interest to Serious Labs.
Jason Seltzer They can come at things from a completely different angle, which they have.
Howard Hamilton We had produced, we’ll say, a prototype of the software, but it could not be used in practice by Serious Labs at the end of the Engage Grant. Serious Labs was very interested in us continuing the work on those solutions, and so that’s why we looked at an Engage Plus Grant.
Jason Seltzer I think it’s probably very fulfilling to work on something and know that it’s going to someone who’s excited to use it.
Howard Hamilton We see an opportunity to take research that has been funded by the Canadian taxpayer and apply it in a way that benefits the Canadian economy. So then one could imagine, if our research is useful, that a whole generation of people who are operating equipment, machinery and large machines would benefit from improved training.

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