Eight360 simulator

Aerospace, mechanical and mechatronic facilities

Testing innovations and applications for students and researchers

From agricultural robotics and drones to advanced materials technologies, our extensive range of  laboratories facilitate teaching, research and industry service excellence.

The Australian Centre for Field Robotics (ACFR) has major facilities for development of autonomous systems including air, ground and subsea robots. Our field robotics laboratory includes a well-equipped electronics fabrication and assembly area; near-field and far-field anechoic test facility; environmental test chamber; individual robot assembly and testing bays; a flight-vehicle fabrication laboratory; a large-vehicle high-bay; 3T overhead crane; and a mechanical workshop. ACFR also has access to a 20,000 acre remote site, complete with 1000ft runway and aviation danger zone activated by NOTAM for full field testing.

UAVs or unmanned aerial vehicles are also known as remotely piloted aircraft systems (RPAS) by global aviation regulators, and commonly referred to as drones. Our UAV laboratory is equipped with rapid-prototyping tools and facilities to develop novel UAV flight systems and support flight operations. We have a Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) approved UAV flight test facility at one of our university farms in Marulan (a 2.5-hour drive from Sydney) where we have 20,000 acres of available airspace up to 2000ft AGL.

There is an indoor laboratory in the aeronautical engineering building with OptiTrack motion-capture cameras to facilitate small UAV flight experimentation. Active research projects undertaken include exploring innovations in design concepts to meet the increasingly demanding operational requirements relating to cruise efficiency, runway-independent launch and recovery; novel applications for autonomous flight systems; and pushing the limits on miniaturisation of practical flight platforms. In addition to the development of innovative flight platform systems, our expertise and experience in designing, optimising and operating UAVs remain invaluable in ensuring affirmative cross-disciplinary research outcomes to take advantage of autonomous remote flight capabilities.

A flight simulator is any system that attempts to reproduce the experience of flying as realistically and accurately as possible. Flight simulation is necessary because unlike many other vehicles aircraft are complex systems that are extremely hazardous to fly without the proper training. Moreover, every different type of aircraft is a unique system that can exhibit extremely different flight stability characteristics. Due to this diversity in aircraft stability characteristics, pilots are required to be specifically rated for various aircraft types, to ensure that they are adequately proficient in the handling of the aircraft in different meteorological conditions.

The current simulator's key features include:

  • a Eight360 NOVA simulator
  • 360-degree virtual reality cockpit simulator that replicates the experience of piloting any aircraft, from an A380 to a spaceship
  • unlimited rotational axes permit complex movements like spinning and inverted flight
  • virtual reality environment that can be linked to the ‘cause and effect’ of flight theory and aircraft design 
  • operates "untethered", realised by a freely mobile ball resting on rollers, powered by electric motors that enable precise ball positioning at varying speeds for simulation cueing
  • potential to be used for simulated space environments, including controlling crewed vehicles on planet surfaces

The Formula Society of Automotive Engineers Australia (FSAE-A) Lab services the world's oldest automotive society. Sydney Motorsport is the University of Sydney's FSAE-A Team. Each year, FSAE students design, manufacture and test the team's small open-wheeled race car, which is to be conducted and completed within a twelve month period. Upon completion of the project, the team competes in a three-day event, which includes teams from Australia, New Zealand, India, Japan, Europe and the USA. At this event, teams are given scores based on design, financial and marketing skills as well as dynamic events which include acceleration, autocross, skid pad and endurance. 

The School of Aerospace, Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering operates a number of wind tunnel facilities. These are extensively used for teaching, research and industry consultation. The two main units are the "7ft x 5ft" low-speed tunnel which has the capacity to test large models up to 1 or 2 metres in length for speeds ranging from 0 to 40 m/s and the "4ft x 3ft" low-speed smooth-flow tunnel which permits flows to be run up to 60m/s and includes a "10ft x 8ft" return section configured for boundary layer testing at speeds up to 30m/s. In addition a number of smaller closed circuit and blow-down tunnels are available for a variety of tests and calibration work. All tunnels are fitted out with state-of-the-art instrumentation and data recording systems for the measurement of air-loads, pressures and flow fields.