Variable gain haptic coupling for molecular simulation

Abstract : Molecular interactions typically have a high dynamic range (HDR), combining short-range stiff repulsive effects with long-range, soft attractive and repulsive terms. As a result, faithful haptic rendering of such molecular interactions is both important and difficult, in particular in applications where the precise perception of molecular forces is necessary (e.g. in molecular docking simulations). Traditionally, teleoperation coupling using constant gain control schemes have limited applications since they are unable to transmit to users low attractive forces without truncating repulsive ones. Furthermore, constant scaling displacement induces either instability or time-consuming experiments (displacements are slow), which deteriorates the ease of manipulation. In this paper, we describe a variable gain haptic coupling method specifically designed to render high dynamic range (molecular) forces. The proposed method is evaluated by user tests on an experiment involving two water molecules. We observe that variable force amplification is widely appreciated, whereas variable displacement scaling is appropriated only for users familiar with haptic manipulation. A complex experiment on a HIV molecule is carried out using this variable gain system. Advantages and limitations of this approach are discussed.
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Aude Bolopion, Barthelemy Cagneau, Stephane Redon, Stéphane Régnier. Variable gain haptic coupling for molecular simulation. WHC - 2011 IEEE World Haptics Conference, Jun 2011, Istanbul, Turkey. pp.469-474, ⟨10.1109/WHC.2011.5945531⟩. ⟨hal-00784641⟩

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