After the simulator dome was mounted on the movement system and the entire system was technically established, the Institute for Motor Vehicles IKA at RWTH Aachen University was able to start trial operations with its new, highly dynamic driving simulator.

This innovative tool for researching new vehicle systems and autonomous driving was designed by the simulator specialist Imtec-Innovative Maschinentechnik and implemented at IKA, with financial support from the BMBF.

Despite the goal of minimal mass, the new IKA driving simulator is so large that even large, complete cars can be accommodated on a rail system in the dome. The spherical projection surface surrounds the vehicle 360° and thus offers the test driver or test person the most realistic representation of the driving simulation possible.

Maintaining the exact spherical geometry in the seamless joints between the 10 individual FRP cathedral wall elements was a challenge not only in the CNC-supported production of the molds and component processing, but also in joining the FRP components to form a simulator dome that was closed on all sides.

Manufacturing process of the simulator dome

For the spherical shell elements manufactured in sandwich construction, Hahlbrock decided to use a special fiberglass prepreg, which harmonizes the unique character of the simulator dome and the cost-effectiveness of its production. This prepreg gives the large-format FRP components with relatively thin laminates the rigidity required for correct image projection, even at higher accelerations of the simulator dome, and generates sufficiently constant material thicknesses. The curing temperature of the prepreg below 100 °C allowed the use of standard PVC rigid foams for the sandwich cores. Before the FRP manufacturing process, these were thermally formed into the desired spherical shell geometry, glued together and provided with the necessary recesses. Also the elements of the roof cone, which houses the image projectors and the base plate were manufactured in a sandwich construction with the same core material. All fiber composite components were trimmed, drilled and joined with CNC support based on the 3D CAD model of the driving simulator.

Press release for the opening


Client: Imtec GmbH Innovative machine technology

Development & Design: Imtec GmbH Innovative machine technology

Operator: Institute for Motor Vehicles IKA at RWTH

Delivery: November 2015

Commissioning: October 2016

Dome inner diameter: 7,000 mm

Platform diameter: 6,500 mm

Dome height (without hexapod): 3,320 mm

Weight with base structure: approx. 3,400 kg