VR headsets can help tank drivers

Four Norwegian experts recently proved that virtual reality live streaming systems can practically be employed to control vehicles, when they helped drive a real battle tank — a German Leopard 1 — with the driver immersed in a virtual environment.

The driver had complete awareness of the actual environment all around the tank, without any delays in video rendering.

“Most people today are familiar with video games,” Pointmedia co-founder and producer Jorgen Stordal told Hypergrid Business. “The advantage in games where the driver controls a vessel, machine, car or tank, is the great overview in third person, but this had yet not been proved in real life.”

The team, which has expertise in a variety of areas included Jorgen Stordal, the initiator of the project, Ali Zareiee from Adapa360, who modified the hardware, Kim Bauman Larsen from Dimension Design, who solved software issues, Eric Sandum from Nucom, who conducted a parallel 360 degrees video test with drones, and Skuli Snaer Jonsson, who was the driver of the battle tank.

Courtesy of PointMedia
(Image courtesy Lasse Ibsen Thun.)

“The main challenge was to give the driver a stable stream without any delay, if not, this could be really dangerous,” said Stordal.

The team positioned two modified GoPro 4 cameras fitted with Entaniya lenses and 280 degrees field of view as modified by Adapa360, at the rear of the battle tank that was borrowed from Armydays. The camera streamed a live video to an Adapa360-modified Windows Intel personal computer positioned inside the vessel, and the driver took the pludge on an Oculus DK2. The system run on Vahana VR software.

“We did prove that expensive special hardware is not needed — standard equipment is now available to everyone,”  said Stordal. “The driver experienced a much greater understanding of his surroundings in virtual reality mode compared to the usual way in combat, which is with hatches down. This gives a narrow field of view from the inside of the tank and out that while in battle mode. With our solution, he had complete surveillance from bird’s eye view, behind the tank that gave him a much better maneuverability.”

Watch the video below of the exercise:

The team says the  system can be applied in various other industries such as unmanned arial vehicles and industrial machines.

David Kariuki

David Kariuki is a technology journalist who has a wide range of experience reporting about modern technology solutions. A graduate of Kenya's Moi University, he also writes for Cleanleap, and has previously worked for Resources Quarterly and Construction Review. Email him at [email protected].