Experience with current Virtual Reality (VR) systems that simulate low clearance assembly operations with haptic feedback indicate that such systems are highly desirable tools in the evaluation of preliminary designs, as well as virtual training and maintenance processes. The purpose of this research is to develop methods to support manual low clearance assembly using haptic (force) feedback in a virtual environment. The results of this research will be used in an engineering framework for assembly simulation, training, and maintenance. The proposed method combines voxel-based collision detection and boundary representation to support both force feedback and constraint recognition. The key to this approach is developing the data structure and logic needed to seamlessly move between the two representations while supporting smooth haptic feedback. Collision forces and constraint-guided forces are blended to provide support for low clearance haptic assembly. This paper describes the development of the method.

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