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I need to simulate a stream of vehicles, such as on an assembly line. Automatons are performing operations on the vehicles when they come within reach. The automatons do not keep track of the individual vehicles, they simply collect data.

We need to choose a method of matching the data gathered by each automaton with the vehicle it belongs to. For example, we could guess the identity of a vehicle using its timing when arriving in the operation range (sensors) of an automaton.

I have to check the possible problems we will face, so I would like a little (hopefully simple) video/simulation tool that I could play with.

  • vehicles could be symbolized has moving black squares
  • automatons/sensors could be static points or circles.
  • it should be possible to change the time interval between two vehicles, and their speed, and add some random delays.

What kind of software should I search for, or where should I look?

Should I consider to developing it from scratch?

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This is a great question and has come up a couple of times already (see Quadruped Learning Simulator and See Standalone (or capable of being) Robotics Simulator).

In short, the de facto standard simulators for all things robotic are Stage (for 2D) and Gazebo (for 3D). ROS is another option for what you are trying to do. Not only because it is highly compatible with the aforementioned simulators but because it has it's own simple visualization tool called RViz which excels at displaying primitives as you describe.

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As a child I had a copy of a software called "SPS Visu" where you could do such simulations. (I thought it was a game and sure ha a lot of fun with it :D) Maybe this is what you are looking for?

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