Ever since the first developer kits for the Oculus Rift began shipping, a number of creative types have been combining the VR goggles with other devices to form entirely new experiences. While most of these have done a good job of immersing users in virtual environments, the latest project from Intuitive Aerial could provide a unique perspective on the real world. The project, called Oculus Rift FPV, allows a pilot to control a UAV while wearing the VR headset, giving them a 360-degree, bird's-eye view without ever leaving the ground.
Intuitive Aerial, a Swedish company specializing in airborne camera rigs, outfitted one of its own Black Armored Drones with a makeshift wooden rig, carrying a laptop and two cameras arranged side-by-side. The laptop streams footage from the webcams wirelessly to another computer on the ground, which is connected to an Oculus Rift, allowing the wearer to essentially see from the aircraft's viewpoint. The live footage has a latency of 120 ms, which is low enough for a person to effectively control the drone with the goggles on.
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At the moment, it's a fairly basic system, but the designers plan to streamline the design and add a host of new features. Currently, the connection range between the two computers is 50 - 100 m (164 - 328 ft), but higher-grade equipment could extend this by over ten times as much, according to the developers. In the future, the team also hopes to remove the on-board laptop from the equation entirely in favor of a smaller electronic unit running a customized program, which would reduce the latency even further.
The main aim, however, is to expand the field of view by replacing the current model's webcams with two or more higher-quality cameras, each equipped with a fish-eye lens. Later versions of the Oculus Rift FPV rig will also have an upgraded camera mount to accommodate head tracking, so a pilot can look around freely and have the cameras follow.
Check out the video below to watch the designers take the current Oculus Rift FPV system on a test run.
Source: Intuitive Aerial