Driving a real car blind through a virtual world with an Oculus Rift

"Virtual Drift was exhilarating and challenging like nothing I’ve ever done before," said Matt Powers

Formula Drift driver Matt Powers has successfully driven his Roush Stage 3 Mustang at high speed in the real world while immersed in a 3D virtual world (via an Oculus Rift headset). Instead of the test track that he was actually driving on, Powers saw falling boulders, sheer cliff drops, crumbling and collapsing track, and other game-like elements.

He did this as part of the Titanium Trials series by motor oil company Castrol. These trials, which are meant to promote the company's premium product, Castrol Edge, are designed to push the boundaries of what's possible in driving a vehicle.

This Virtual Drift challenge required development of a custom system to track the car's movements in minute detail and simulate them in real time in the virtual world. To make it work with the Oculus Rift, creative technologists Adam Amaral and Glenn Snyder spent two months testing and installing a variety of sensors into the car to monitor the steering angle, wheel spin, brake, throttle position, dynamic damping, and more. "Essentially, we're turning this car into a giant game controller," Amaral said in a behind the scenes video that you can watch below.

Powers noted that the experience forced him to rely on his instincts and an intimate familiarity with the car. "Virtual Drift was exhilarating and challenging like nothing I’ve ever done before," he said. "It’s been awesome not only being involved and testing this next generation of gaming technology, but [also] the possibilities this opens up for motor sport in general are mind blowing."

You can watch the full film of the challenge below.

Source: Castrol

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