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Introducing Vortex Studio 2021a – CM Labs Simulations Introducing Vortex Studio 2021a - CM Labs Simulations

Introducing Vortex Studio 2021a

Vortex Studio is designed to provide engineers with tools to accelerate the design process with virtual prototyping and system-level simulation. It allows software-in-the-loop (SiL) and hardware-in-the-loop (HiL) testing as well as simulation deployment on large-scale simulator platforms.

With the launch of Vortex Studio 2021a, we’re pleased to announce a host of new features, including:

  • New sensors
  • ROS2 connectivity
  • integration with Unity

We’ve also released a new Vortex Studio tutorial focused on reinforcement learning (RL).

New sensors for virtual design and rapid prototyping of autonomous machines

With sensors becoming more widespread in modern machines and robotics systems, Vortex Studio 2021a features a set of simulated electro-optical sensors, including:

  • Lidar sensor
  • Depth camera
  • Color camera

This release also includes a new kinematics sensor for easy access to position, orientation, acceleration, and velocity of machine components. With these new sensor simulations, you can quickly reproduce the behaviour of specific Lidar sensors, including:

  • Velodyne VLP 16
  • SICK LD-MRS400102 HD
  • SICK LD-MRS800001S01
  • Hokuyo URM-40LC-EW
  • Hokuyo YVT-35LX

All sensors are designed to function in a Vortex Studio simulation with Unreal Engine, and in a standalone Vortex Studio simulation as of the next release.

Examples of the Lidar Sensor simulation in Vortex Studio, deployed in Unreal Engine.
The Lidar’s point cloud output is rendered as a series of blue dots.

With these new sensors, you can access output data via Python, making them easy to connect for further data processing, e.g., in a machine learning environment for automation use cases.

Depth camera output, saved as a PNG file via the Vortex Studio Python API.

Depth camera operating in Unreal, with depth image shown top left. Depth information is dynamically affected by the environment.

Below is the architectural overview and data flow for sensors. Note that sensors can interact in a co-simulated environment with Vortex Studio and ROS2.

Connect Vortex Studio to ROS2 for virtual prototyping of robotics systems

With this new release, you can connect Vortex Studio to ROS2 via Python scripts (see tutorial).

Here is a short animation showing the workflow:

In addition, you can now also import your robots from ROS directly into Vortex Studio via URDF files, and obtain Vortex assemblies with all relevant robot information such as the rigid body-joint structure, geometries, and the mass properties of the robotic links.

Among other options, this allows you to migrate your Gazebo simulation, which supports URDF files, to Vortex Studio. Here is how that looks:

 

Using Unity as a graphics renderer for your Vortex Studio simulations

This release includes its first official Unity integration, designed for anybody looking to benefit from Vortex Studio capabilities in tandem with Unity’s advanced graphics rendering.

It’s also straightforward to connect your existing Vortex Studio simulations to Unity for high-fidelity rendering:

Consult the release notes to learn more about Vortex Studio 2021a, including licensing and general usability improvements.