Linear Actuators for Motion Platforms

The modern technological age gives us much more possibilities than we could imagine just a couple decades ago. The introduction of Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality into our lives has changed the perception of the world. You no longer need to travel long distances to visit a concert or a certain tourist attraction, as the companies have virtual tours for these places. You can enjoy those at home, sitting comfortably on your couch. There is no necessity for building high-cost and time-consuming prototypes of various machines. The motion platforms help to make the process easier, faster, and cheaper. And, linear actuators for a motion simulator just add to this simplicity, giving a user many possibilities.

What Is a Motion Platform And How It Works?

A motion platform is a technical device that helps to simulate processes by combining them with the outside world. The platform allows the movement in all six degrees of freedom (DOF). Those include three linear degrees (heave, sway, and surge) and rotational degrees (roll, yaw, and pitch). The creation of the first motion platform dates back to 1910, which was an aircraft model. At the time, the model only included rotational movement and was used for the pilot training.

Platforms nowadays have 6 jacks which allow for the 6 degrees of freedom movement. The human body is capable of picking up various signals of the surrounding world. The simulation provides the required signals that are synchronized with the real world and help the user adjust to the new situation. The linear actuator for motion platform helps create a linear motion to improve the simulation process. The development of the simulation process is firmly related to the augmented reality technology (AG), as it uses AG as a base for the visual representation

How Do Motion Platforms Get Moving?

As we already mentioned, the platform uses six jacks (hexapods) for the movement. These jacks help with an imitation of processes which need to be trained, or any forces which might be acting upon the user. This way, they can have a full life-like experience without creating expensive models of vehicles or aircrafts. Though, the usage of motion platforms is not limited to these two fields. The cockpit used for simulation weights around 1.5 tonnes and is responsible for simulating motion.

Where Are Motion Platforms Used?

The platforms are mainly used in the aircraft and transport fields. The pilots can learn to operate an aircraft without the need for using expensive equipment. The usage of motion platforms is not limited to this though. They are also used in games for providing a feeling of presence in the game. The linear actuator in motion platforms can be represented in numerous types of devices. For example, pedals, steering wheels, or joysticks are used in the game industry.

Besides these fields, the simulation is also used by various companies around the world for training their specialists. Those include usage by engineers to check the vehicles’ performance, tests of aircraft hardware, 5D cinemas, and many more. The medical training nowadays can also include some simulation processes. This is especially true for the newly produced equipment, which helps doctors to get adjusted to it and test the performance before it’s used in real surgeries.

Private large organizations build or purchase their own simulators for the purpose of staff training in the conditions close to reality. The advantages of the motion platforms are the lower costs compared to building a prototype of the system or machine, the speed of training, and the safety or users. The latter one is an extremely important point for aircraft and transport industries, as it reduces the dangers inflicted on the users during the training.

However, there are pitfalls of the platforms as well. Those include the impossibility of a perfect real-life-experience imitation, as all the conditions and situations present cannot be predicted. There is also a possibility of experiencing the “simulation sickness”. This effect can be produced by various factors, such as individual acceptance, the flight hours, or drugs.

Elements of Motion Platform Systems

The platform movement is controlled by six legs (jacks) each of which have a hydraulic cylinder with a sensor attached to it. Sensors are responsible for various types of movement. The oil under pressure is distributed to each of the jacks via dedicated valves which allows for an independent control of each jack. The cockpit has instruments required for the specific action done by the platform. Besides that, the platform includes visual, audio, and motion systems for providing the full experience.

Except for the mentioned parts, the systems need the virtual reality-based software for the simulation process itself. As it is physically impossible to create the conditions identical to the real world ones, certain experiences are achieved by affecting the senses of a human body. For example, the flying with a constant velocity in an aircraft to a motion platform is no different from being fixed sited in a chair. So, the change in velocity is used to achieve the effect of acceleration.

Types Of Linear Actuators For Motion Platforms

Linear actuators for a motion platform are a necessary addition to the process. They use energy in order to create linear motion. The motions can be lifting, pulling, blocking, descending, etc. There are numerous kinds of linear actuators, yet, not all of them are used in motion platforms. Below are the main types of actuators for motion platforms.

  • Hydraulic actuators include a cylinder with a piston inside. With the pressure applied, the piston can move an object by generating a force. The controlled linear displacement of a piston is possible within the cylinder. However, it is only possible along the piston axis. A hydraulic actuator can also stand for a mechanism regulated by a hydraulic pump.
  • Mechanical actuators are generally responsible only for a certain type of action. They perform a conversion of a rotational process into a linear motion. The conversion is achieved with the gears or screws joined with a knob or a handle. Index marks are used in order to control the accuracy of a displacement in such devices.
  • Electro-mechanical actuators are different from the mechanical ones by usage of an electric motor instead or knobs and handles. The type of a motor used depends on the purpose of usage of the actuator. Sometimes, the speed and force are required and the accuracy of movement is not particularly important.

Why Progressive Automations?

Progressive Automations is one of the leaders in manufacturing linear actuators worldwide. With over 10 years of experience, we have made our way into offering exquisite products at an affordable price. Each linear actuator presented for a motion platform is provided with high-standard support service. We strive for providing an excellent experience for our customers. Our team is constantly growing and learning in order to improve our service. We continuously innovate our products and provide custom-built solutions. If you are looking for a consultation on the linear actuators or are ready to purchase one, we are happy to assist.


The modern systems provide much more possibilities for improving processes and training in diverse domains from aviation to medicine, and from engineering to gaming industry. The creation of simulators allowed many companies to simplify their training and lower the costs. This helps to educate the new specialists and to improve the skills of the existing ones much easier. The field still develops as the new levels of augmented reality possibilities are introduced. And, it has a promising effect on our lives.

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