04 June 2010
Neuilly sur Seine, 4 June 2010 – Thales announced today the inauguration of its rugby scrum simulator — the first of its kind in the world — developed in close partnership with the Fédération Française de Rugby (FFR).
The simulator was designed to analyse the risk of scrum accidents, particularly spinal injuries, and thus improve player safety. Instability and collapse of the scrum formation is one of the primary causes of player injuries. This simulator meets critical requirements for reducing accidents, but also goes one step further, as a tool for coaching purposes and match preparation.
Conducted as part of a management-transition training programme at Thales, the project has combined state-of-the-art technology and advanced research for the direct benefit of toplevel sport. A group of seven Thales personnel worked closely with the teams at CNRS and the FFR for several months. Development was led by Didier Retière, in charge of the French forwards, Pierre-Paul Vidal, CNRS research director at the Université Paris Descartes and a specialist in neurosciences, Julien Piscione, senior research consultant in biomechanics and head of the FFR’s science unit, and Serge Couvet, simulation engineer at Thales.
The scrum simulator takes the shape of a six-legged robot, relying on a six-axis motion system to respond to player inputs (force and motion) via sensors installed behind the beams/shoulder pads.
The simulator reconstructs the scrum situation by moving the beam left and right, backwards and forwards, up and down, combined with three-axis rotation. Unlike a simple muscle development simulator, which measures forces only, the simulator is designed to develop sensory-motor control. Individual player weaknesses reduce the overall effectiveness of the scrum formation. The simulator identifies these weaknesses so as to making the scrum more steady and stable.
“The scrum members need to make the formation move as a single man,” says Serge Couvet, project engineer at Thales.
Sensors located between the beam and the simulator structure measure the engagement forces of each player. The simulator – which is designed to support player qualifications of all levels – reacts in real time, according to a pre-programmed control strategy. “The simulator is a real revolution,” says Dr Julien Piscione, senior research consultant in biomechanics and head of the FFR’s science unit. “Not only is it the first simulator of its kind ever developed in the world, it is also the first time that euroscience has been applied to simulator design. The secret behind this innovation lies in its ability to generate proprioceptive inputs. These allow players to decide how to move and push against the simulator, which reacts accordingly.”
About Thales’s simulation business
Thales is a major player in the development of training and simulation solutions for civil and military applications. The company works in close partnership with customers to understand their evolving requirements and propose adapted solutions. For all synthetic training equipment needs, Thales provides a complete solution capability, from PC-based training aids, through fixed-based system trainers and full-motion mission simulators to interactive networked synthetic environments for highlevel military mission simulation.
Thales is a global technology leader for the Aerospace and Space, Defence, Security and Transportation markets. In 2009, the company generated revenues of 12.9 billion euros with 68,000 employees in 50 countries. With its 25,000 engineers and researchers, Thales has a unique capability to design, develop and deploy equipment, systems and services that meet the most complex security requirements. Thales has an exceptional international footprint, with operations around the world working with customers as local partners. www.thalesgroup.com
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