Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada
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Past Winner
2017 NSERC Synergy Awards for Innovation

Synergy Award for Innovation

Synergy Award for Innovation

Category 1: Small and Medium-Sized Companies

McGill University
CM Labs Simulations, Inc.

Computer simulation is providing powerful new tools for designing and testing new technologies. Engineers are able to create simulated versions of new robots, vehicles, farm equipment, and other heavy machinery and see how they perform in simulated environments, fixing problems and making improvements before producing a final design. But if computer simulations are going to be truly effective tools, they need sophisticated computer code that recreates the real world accurately and precisely.

Jozsef Kövecses, a researcher at McGill University, has partnered with Montreal-based CM Labs Simulations to develop the mathematical models that make computer simulations act and feel lifelike. Kövecses and his team create physics-based modeling algorithms that reproduce in virtual environments details like load, cable tension, and fast mechanical movement. These are important elements that become even more complicated when factors like force, speed, and weight are added to the mix, and it’s those particulars that make the simulations such valuable learning and analysis tools. For instance, an engineer testing a new robot or machine design will be able to spot flaws that would cause the system to fail in various operating conditions. Meanwhile, a student training to operate a cable crane in one of CM Labs’ simulators will have to learn a delicate touch in order to move heavy loads at the end of a cable without swinging, spilling, or crashing the contents into the computer-simulated buildings nearby.

Engineering firms and training schools for heavy machinery and vehicles are increasingly looking to simulations as a way to lower costs, eliminate risks and lessen environmental impacts. CM Labs’ simulators are used around the world and include applications such as deep sea exploration, surgical training, and off-road vehicle simulation. They are always seeking to improve their technology to give users the most realistic simulations possible, and Kövecses is helping them achieve that goal. He and CM Labs are continuing their collaboration to further develop and refine algorithms and frameworks that blur the line between the real world and a simulation.

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