Real Time, Interactive Simulation to Help Build Better Systems

We’ve all experienced and benefitted from the products of modeling and simulation (M&S) over the past 30 years. The cars we drive are higher performance, more efficient, safer, and more robust than Henry Ford could have ever imagined. We visit a website or home improvement store and can use augmented reality applications to visualize how new paint colors or pieces of furniture will look in our homes. A seemingly infinite array of video games are on tap 24/7 that take us far beyond the Pong or Pacman of yesteryear and drag us deep into an emotional, hyper-realistic experience. Our kids absorb information experientially through tablet-based applications and interactive simulators. The movies and shows we watch contain virtually-generated and seamlessly integrated characters that blur (if not destroy completely) the lines of reality. These modern marvels are the result of the growth, capabilities, and application of M&S technology.

CASE STUDY :

Autonomous Navigation and Virtual Environment Laboratory (ANVEL)
Real-time, interactive ground robotics modelling and simulation tool

CASE STUDY :

Visual Authoring Tools System (VATS)
Photo-realistic videos authoring for HPC-based simulation data

CASE STUDY :

LookOut
A Driver’s Training Tool Using Virtual Environments

CASE STUDY :

Base ADAPT
Effectively plan and assess force protection during base construction and teardown

Why does Quantum Signal (QS) care? Because M&S isn’t an extra burden to our programs, or something we do in our spare time – it’s a part of our company soul. We live, eat, and breathe M&S because we believe great products and engineering comes through its use, and that modern M&S tools and technologies can be used to change the world around us. Based on this core belief, we’ve spent over fifteen years building in-house capabilities and products that help our users achieve their goals or delight their clients. QS’ strength in bringing together video game technology (real-time, interactive, highly-visualized software with friendly intuitive interfaces) and engineering simulation (intelligent, well-understood models that emulate real-world system performance) have resulted in a host of unique, useful solutions that were far ahead of the curve. We specialize in providing interactive, video-game style graphics, sound, friendly user interface, and real-time performance that directly integrates with engineering simulations and supporting hardware, and build products useful for engineering, training, planning, and other applications. QS’ M&S solutions are useful for studying system performance, collecting feedback from potential end users or customers, marketing a concept, training staff, exploring new concepts and ideas, and more.

The QS team has a unique combination of expertise and experience to build cutting-edge simulation applications. Team members with background in engineering and gaming work side-by-side, and QS has leveraged their expertise to build solutions to meet the demanding requirements of customers - both private and public. We have delivered outstanding, state-of-the-art interactive solutions to the Department of Homeland Security, the Department of Defense, the Department of State, Sony, US Secret Service, THQ, and many more. Our simulation technologies have been used by many organizations and hundreds of thousands of individuals worldwide.

Modeling and Simulation Tools for Mobile Robotics

Given QS’ heavy focus on developing mobile robotics technologies and applications, it should be no surprise that we are (and have been) deeply engaged in the development and use of M&S in this arena. As any well-informed roboticist will tell you: it is difficult (or in some case impossible) to develop subsystems for autonomous or robotic vehicles in a vacuum; all the components, sensors, actuators, and algorithms work together as a cohesive system to enable those “intelligent” differentiating functionalities. Development, testing, verification, and validation are all impacted by the complex, integrated nature of these systems, and the only efficient and effective manner and hope for robust outcomes is to use advanced M&S technology. Since 2007, the team has been engaged in the development of real-time tools that help support robotics and intelligent vehicle development and testing for QS, as well as hundreds of other development teams and users. These tools are applied to address areas such as:

  • Exploration of concept of operation (CONOPS) for systems with different configurations operating in a variety of environments; facilitating interactive exploration of CONOPS helps developers define and distill requirements against which the system should/must be developed.
  • Exploration, testing, and debugging of autonomy and related algorithms including path planning, obstacle detection and avoidance, discrete behaviors, and similar.
  • Exploration, prototyping, and refinement of user interfaces; QS software has been used to act as a “stand in” virtual UGV while different designs for OCUs and user interfaces are tested with human operators.
  • Development of hardware in the loop (HIL) and software in the loop (SIL) systems; QS, the Army, and others are using our software to provide real-time virtual components (vehicles, sensors, etc.) that are connected to real world components in various mixtures so software and algorithm systems and subsystems can be tested out prior to deployment on live platforms.
  • Exploration of multi-vehicle/convoy systems; a “convoy creator” package that has been developed is helping the Army explore concepts of leader-follower behavior in convoys, spacing issues, communications topology or quality issues, and more.
  • Testing and characterization of the performance of the systems which includes running large scale, repeated testing of algorithms or software components while varying parameters within the simulation and generating outputs that can be further analyzed and leveraged

The culmination of over a decade of QS’ mobile robotics M&S efforts is the Autonomous Navigation Virtual Environment Laboratory (ANVEL), a product available to researchers, commercial developers, and military users. QS provides software, support, and services to help users get the most out of ANVEL and help them leverage it to advance their robotics systems. More information on ANVEL is available at anvelsim.com.

Interactive Visualization Tools for Complex Data

If we didn’t recognize it then, we certainly all do now: we live in an information age. The question of whether we have the data we need has been dramatically displaced by the much larger question of how we sift through and comprehend all the data that we have. There is no easy answer, and the solutions must reflect the nature of the challenge and application area being tackled.

It is fortunate, then, that we live in an age where ubiquitous computing power, rendering capabilities, and unique hardware interfaces can be intelligently combined to yield visualization solutions. Some solutions can be addressed with a static, well-formatted pie chart presented on a flat panel, while others involve three-dimensional representations presented in a VR headset and manipulated in real time by next-gen hand-controllers with haptic feedback. No matter the representation type, UI, or format, the goals are the same: to provide insight to the user, and amplify their ability to analyze and make decisions from the data before them.

The QS team specializes in intelligent, interactive data visualization. Leveraging our experience and expertise in software development, user interface design, algorithm development, and video gaming, we build and deliver tools that help provide high-quality, interactive visualizations of data. We work with our customers to understand what they are hunting for (their data challenge) and build cutting-edge solutions using the latest in hardware and software that draw out the important stuff, providing deep and meaningful insight into datasets that would otherwise keep their secrets hidden.

If you’ve got a data visualization issue, or are looking to up the ante on your interactive data visualization solutions, let us know.

Creative Solutions for Unique Applications

If there’s one thing that’s been constant over the many years QS has been building solutions, it’s that we can’t always predict the seemingly endless array of exciting challenges and opportunities our clients bring to us. Our simulation capabilities are broad, and we’re happy to explore with you how they can be applied to create a custom, strategic, M&S based solution that meets your needs. Our team knows how rendered work, have used that new VR headset, understand augmented reality and how to build or use it, and can build a solution that your seven-year-old could operate in five minutes of training. If you’re looking for highly-visualized, interactive, intuitive sim solutions, or have recently gotten excited about a simulation or visualization technology that might be able to meet your need but don’t know how to get there, why not give us a shout? We’ve helped dozens of organizations find the right path and get to a solution, and we’re ready to help you!

WE WORK THE FUTURE, BUT PLAY OLD-SCHOOL

Our game lounge and hallways are stocked with plenty of unique, fun arcade goodness from the 1930s through the 1990s. They don’t always work, but when they do it’s absolutely Back to the Future. Getting’ it on like Donkey Kong...

A HIDDEN GEM, A SECRET FACT

Salt Springs Brewery in Saline is a favorite amongst our staff, and located in an antique church. Few know that QS actually considered purchasing the building long before it was renovated into the awesome brewpub it is today. We are very happy things turned out the way they did – they make the beer at the Church of Hops, we do the engineering at the School of Code!

MAIZE AND BLUE

QS is a 1999 spin-off of the University of Michigan College of Engineering. Don’t worry, though – there’s no rivalry at Quantum. MSU fans and graduates are welcome, and we mostly try not to put their desks in the basement torture chamber. Mostly.

WE ARE ALWAYS UP FOR A CHALLENGE

QS fielded two outstanding teams at the most recent Saline Celtic Festival Mastodon Challenge! Is there’s any question as to whether we’re hard-core or not, consider this: Bill Meabrod, one of our esteemed coders, did it barefoot using his self-described “Hobbit Feet” on the entire mission.

GETTING IN THE SPIRIT

Each year QS hosts a Halloween costume contest, and few can resist to throw in their hat. At a recent one, CEO Mitch Rohde rocked his Tron costume – showing both his dorkiness and vintage all in one disturbing swoop! End of line.

CTRL + ALT + DELETE

Working out the kinks in vehicle teleoperation can be fun; from a safe distance of course!

BUMP. SET. SPIKE!

Weekly volleyball matches get pretty intense at Quantum Signal. The gym is regulation, the players not-so-much. It’s like the volleyball scene from Top Gun, minus the sand and plus the C++ experience level...

SAVING LIVES. SAVING FRIES.

QS doesn’t just keep soldiers safe – we’re also single-handedly responsible for the return of waffle fries at Dan's Downtown Tavern, one of our favorite lunch spots. Now, about those curly fries...

WE CELEBRATE THE VICTORIES

Sometimes it's a trip to Cedar Point, other times a t-shirt and BBQ lunch, and still other times an engineering-grade sheetcake. Don't worry, we make management eat the non-chocolate parts.

IT'S TIME FOR A DOUBLE BILL...

QS' co-founder, Dr. William J. Williams, is named after a famous figure in Scottish history. He is also a distant cousin of Bob Evans, of restaurant fame!

GOAT, MOOSE, SHEEP – INDIVIDUALS OR FLOCKS – WHATEVER YOU NEED...

QS has built a variety of virtual animals for M&S environments, including a friendly goat with an accurate gate and simulated hoof forces. Yes, we were contracted to do it. Yes, we will tell you the story if you buy us a beer...

A MASTER OF HIS CRAFT...

"What are you milling Kevin?" - "A girlfriend. She'll be perfect."

AND WE SMILE A LOT MORE, TOO!

Back in 1931, this facility housed the finest Saline athletes. Today, it houses the finest Saline MATHLETES!

SEEING OBSTACLES, AND EATING THEM

James Walker, our in-house Robot Whisperer, once emerged victorious from a Wendy’s "Meat Cube" challenge. Hard-core coding, hard core burger consumption – that’s the QS way.

OUR QA THINKS, AND THUS IS...

Dan Rice, QS Quality Assurance Maestro and all around cool dude, majored in philosophy and once wrote a paper on Aristotle's Philosophy of Mind! His tickets are more Socrates than Nietzsche, though.

QS: WHERE ROBOTS ARE LIKE FAMILY

We figure being nice to the 'bots now will help ingratiate us with our future robot overlords.

ALWAYS READY TO RUMBLE

In 2014/2015 QS built and released a little game called "Rustbucket Rumble" – a casual multi-robot mash-em-up craze-fest. It had a fanbase, but didn’t make it big enough to warrant a sequel. Still, we miss those little critters...

SOMETIMES, YOU GET TAGGED

We'll assume this was a comment on the political situation and not our codebase….