Abstract : Virtual assembly platforms (VAPs) provide a means to interrogate product form, fit and function thereby shortening the design cycle time and improving product manufacturability while reducing assembly cost. VAPs lend themselves to training and can be used as offline programmable interfaces for planning and automation. Haptic devices are increasingly being chosen as the mode of interaction for VAPs over conventional glove-based and 3D-mice, the key benefit being the kinaesthetic feedback users receive while performing virtual assembly tasks in 2D/3D space leading to a virtual world closer to the real world. However, the challenge in recent years is to understand and evaluate the addedvalue of haptics. This paper reports on a haptic enabled VAP with a view to questioning the awareness of the environment and associated assembly tasks. The objective is to evaluate and compare human
performance during virtual assembly and real-world assembly, and to identify conditions that may affect the performance of virtual assembly tasks. In particular, the effect of weight perception on virtual assembly tasks is investigated.