Vortex (software)

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Developer(s) CM Labs Simulations
Stable release
Vortex Studio 2017b / August 15, 2017; 6 months ago (2017-08-15)
Operating system Windows, Linux
Type Simulation software platform
License Commercial proprietary software
Website www.cm-labs.com

Vortex Studio is a complete simulation software platform. It features a high-fidelity, realtime physics engine developed by CM Labs Simulations that simulates rigid body dynamics, collision detection, contact determination, and dynamic reactions. It also contains model import and preparation tools, an image generator, and networking tools for distributed simulation, accessed through a desktop editor via a GUI. Vortex adds accurate physical motion and interactions to objects in visual-simulation applications for operator training, mission planning, product concept validation, heavy machinery and robotics design and testing, haptics devices, immersive and virtual reality (VR) environments.[1]

The Vortex C++ SDK has several modules that simulate physics-based particles, sensors, floating bodies, cable systems, earthmoving operations, grasping, and vehicles (wheeled or tracked). Vortex has a modular architecture: developers can integrate their projects into 3D visualization frameworks such as OpenSceneGraph (OSG) and Vega Prime, and deploy them in environments that contain software-in-the-loop (SIL), MATLAB, hardware-in-the-loop (HIL), and motion platform components.


Vortex Studio is developed by CM Labs Simulations Inc., a private company established in Montreal in 2001. CM Labs was created when the management of MathEngine Canada Inc. purchased a portion of the business from MathEngine PLC, the parent company in the UK. MathEngine Canada Inc. was originally the research and development team responsible for creating the Karma physics simulation engine for computer games.

CM Labs shifted its focus away from gaming. It now supports two distinct markets, visual simulation for training (VST), targeting Vortex at robotics and heavy-equipment operator training in both commercial and military applications, and heavy equipment engineering, targeting manufacturers.

Vortex Studio has been under active development ever since the initial launch of the software in 2001. It usually has two to three releases per year.


Vortex Studio has been employed in a wide range of commercial, military, and academic projects. To date, it has been used to simulate vehicles, robotics, and heavy equipment in hundreds of construction, mining, forestry, marine, subsea, planetary, academic, and military environments. It has also been used to simulate the movements and behaviour of animals and insects for scientific purposes. Sample examples are:

• The Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) robot simulator developed by the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) for training purposes. EADS uses Vortex to model the physical behaviour of the robot as it maneuvers in its simulated environment, interacting with other objects while processing user commands.[2]

• A driverless vehicle designed by Carnegie Mellon University’s Red Team Racing[3] for the DARPA Grand Challenge that uses Vortex for preplanning and onboard navigation to “accurately simulate the vehicle as it navigates the terrain, including both local area constraints and global path planning objectives.”[3]

• Heavy-equipment operator training simulators such as tower crane, mobile crane, crawler crane, and concrete pump for the Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario[4] and the International Union of Operating Engineers – Local 721.[5] These simulators are used to prepare operators for proper equipment use and accident avoidance.

Georgia State University’s AnimatLab project, which is a simulation software environment that models how the body and nervous system dynamically interact in a Vortex-governed virtual physical world where relevant neural and physical parameters can be observed and manipulated.[6]


  • David M. Bourg, Physics for Game Developers. O’Reilly, 2001.
  • Murilo G. Coutinho, Dynamic Simulations of Multibody Systems. Springer-Verlag, 2001.
  • Jack B. Kuipers, Quaternions and Rotation Sequences. Princeton University Press, 1998.
  • Cornelius Lanczos, The Variational Principles of Mechanics. Dover Books, 1986.

See also


  1. ^ "Vortex Simulation Software | Robotics | CM Labs Simulations". Cm-labs.com. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  2. ^ "Airbus Defence and Space uses Vortex for EOD Robot Training Simulation | Robotics | CM Labs Simulations". Cm-labs.com. 2013-11-01. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 
  3. ^ a b "CMLabs and Red Team Racing" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on August 7, 2011. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  4. ^ "Simulation - Innovative Training Solutions - Operating Engineers Training Institute of Ontario". Archived from the original on March 31, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  5. ^ "IUOE Local 721 - Vortex Mobile Crane Simulator". Archived from the original on September 24, 2009. Retrieved August 7, 2009. 
  6. ^ "Neuromechanical & Biomechanical Simulation". AnimatLab.com. Retrieved 2016-02-18. 

External links

  • CM Labs home page
  • Vortex Studio Essentials Free Version
  • A Virtual Highway for Road Warriors, MT2 2008 Volume 13, Issue 6
  • AnimatLab
  • Dimajix Developer Blog
  • The Daily Commercial News, May 12, 2008
  • Visual Interactive Simulation Lecture, Spring 2005, Physics Engines

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