Maplesoft Blogger Profile: Gilbert Lai

Technical professional in industry or government

Dr. Gilbert Lai is an independent consultant. He is also a mentor for FIRST Robotics team SWAT 771 (http://swat771.com). As a former employee of Maplesoft, he was team lead in the MapleSim simulation engine development team and was technical adviser on various MapleSim add-on toolboxes.

Trained as a Computer Engineer, Dr. Lai’s research interests include robotics control (force feedback teleoperation), aerospace and mechatronics applications (helicopter modelling and control). In his spare time, he enjoys computer games, Sci-Fi movies and quality time with his family.

You can follow @gilbert_lai_phd on Twitter.

Posts by Gilbert Lai

Dr. Gilbert Lai is a mentor for the FIRST Robotics team SWAT 771. He is helping an all girls team from grades 7-12 design a basketball-shooting robot for this year’s annual FIRST Robotics Competition. Dr. Lai is using MapleSim and Maple to help the team understand the principles involved and design their robot. This blog post is part of a series that chronicles the progress of the team.  Posts in the series include:

  • Part 1 - ...

Dr. Gilbert Lai is a mentor for the FIRST Robotics team SWAT 771. He is helping an all girls team from grades 7-12 design a basketball-shooting robot for this year’s annual FIRST Robotics Competition. Dr. Lai is using MapleSim and Maple to help the team understand the principles involved and design their robot. This blog post is part of a series that chronicles the progress of the team.  Posts in the series include:

  • Part 1 - 

Dr. Gilbert Lai is a mentor for the FIRST Robotics team SWAT 771. He is helping an all girls team from grades 7-12 design a basketball-shooting robot for this year’s annual FIRST Robotics Competition. Dr. Lai is using MapleSim and Maple to help the team understand the principles involved and design their robot. This blog post is part of a series that chronicles the progress of the team.  Posts in the series include:

  • Part 1 - 

Our solar system was created in three hours… well, at least that was how long it took for me to create a model of it in MapleSim. This process started out as an inquiry from a MapleSim user asking if MapleSim can be used to model planetary motions, through the use of Newton’s law of gravity. I view this kind of inquiry as both a challenge (any time someone asks “can MapleSim do such and such” it is an automatic invitation for us Applications Engineers to try it out J ), and an opportunity to learn new things.

While I am somewhat fascinated by astronomy (who isn’t dazzled by all of those pretty photos of various celestial bodies in the universe?!), I have never developed a keen interest in it.  That can be partially attributed to the fact that I grew up in a city that never sleeps, which means serious light pollution (I didn’t realize how beautiful the night sky was and how bright the stars can be until my teenage years on a family camping trip…  but that’s another story). The aspect of astronomy that I understand tells me that the law of gravity applies, to a certain extent, and that the magnitude of the numeric values that we are dealing with (for planetary motion simulation) is astronomical! So for me, these are the two key issues that will need to be addressed when creating a MapleSim model.

A few months ago, I needed to prepare for a customer on-site training session. As part of the request for topics to be covered during the training, my contact there wanted to talk about contact! Contact models are important for multi-body systems because it is about the interactions between objects.  An important example of a contact model is a tire component that interacts with the road. In this case, the training topic requested was a more generic question: “how to create contact models in MapleSim”.  There are, of course, lots of examples available within MapleSim that contain contact models already. Two particular examples came to mind: 1) the bouncing ball; and 2) the catapult. However, this being a training session, simply presenting the example models would not accomplish the purpose of the session. So I broadened my scope and turned my attention to the question: “how does one model contact in general?”

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