Date of Award

Spring 5-2002

Document Type


Degree Name

Honors College


Mechanical Engineering

First Advisor

Dr. Patrick Mensah

Second Advisor

Dr. Joyce W. O'Rourke

Third Advisor

Dr. Beverly Wade


Virtual Reality is a fast growing market. Everyday new applications of this technology are being discovered. Virtual Reality (VR) benefits many sectors of the world market. It has applications in areas such as medicine, research, industry, education, and the military. In the field of medicine, VR is being used to train anesthesiologists in the delicate work of delivering anesthesia and in rehabilitation treatment. Researchers use VR to explore micro- and nanoscale systems with scanning tunneling microscopes. Industrial organizations use VR to operate robotics equipment from remote locations. Educational institutions can use VR to augment course work and in research applications. The military uses VR to train pilots to fly fighter aircrafts and individual so Idier training via simulation. With so many applications emerging, there must be a way to make this technology available to all. VR systems use audio, visual, and haptic interfaces to allow the user to interact with objects in the VR environment. The most difficult component of the VR system is the haptic interface, in that it must provide the user with information on the manipulated object's shape, texture, weight, and any other characteristics that the user may use to identify and object by touch. This study investigates a low cost force feedback system that uses shape memory alloy-driven electric pistons. The pistons were actuated by a set current value and characterized for their behavior. It was found that through quick activation and low current application, the electric piston has the potential to be successfully integrated as a mechanical actuator for a force feedback system.