Oculus Rift drafted by Norwegian Army for tanker duty

Oculus Rift driving a tank
By Derek Kessler on 5 May 2014 10:15 am
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It turns out there's more you can do with an Oculus Rift than just play games in virtual reality; you can also drive a tank. A real tank.

That's what the Norwegian Army's Battle Lab and Experimentation group has been doing recently. They've outfitted an M113 armored personnel carrier with four cameras, an off-the-shelf PC, and an Oculus Rift headset. Doing so gives the driver a 360-degree view around the vehicle, even with the armored hatches closed.

By using spherical lenses on the cameras they've been able to achieve a full view around the personnel carrier, allowing the driver to even see down along the sides and front of the vehicle — something that drivers sitting in the opened top hatch can't even get.

The Norwegian Army partnered with local firm Making View to build the system. All of the components — from the cameras, to the computer that processes their input, to the Oculus Rift headset itself, are all off-the-shelf components. Whereas a similarly-capable system sold by a military contractor might cost upwards of a hundred thousand dollars, the hardware attached to this M113 totaled only a few thousand (and much of that was invested in the specialty lenses needed for the cameras).

While the Oculus Rift-driven tank isn't yet ready for battlefield deployment (those lenses are awfully sensitive, for example), that they were able to accomplish such a task without a massive investment is impressive, and bodes well for the future of real-world applications of virtual reality.

So if we can use an Oculus Rift to drive a tank, what else would you like to see VR headsets used to control?

Source: TU; Via: The Verge

14 comments

yodatom10

Who wouldn't want to drive a tank with a Oculus Rift.... When's the mobile tank drive app coming out :D

rbaldonado

This sounds like Northrop Grumman's DAS for the F-35.

Jude Fontenot

Now that's pretty awesome.

nwthomps

This could make flying drones even better.

Xader

Except that right now, piloting a drone is (for the most part): Click waypoint "A" on map. Wait 45 minutes. Click waypoint "B". Wait 22 minutes. Set stand-by orbit at waypoint "C" and wait 2 hours for orders. Receive stand-down orders. Click waypoint "B"...etc.

Drone pilots only really do any "piloting" on takeoff and landing. The rest is just automated systems waiting for instructions.

Now, when world's armed forces start investing more heavily in ground-based unmanned systems, this could really shine, keeping the operator out of harm while giving a true view of the UGV's surroundings.

KarmaEcrivain94

That is pretty badass... Nice to see it can be used for stuff beside gaming. less cool to know that that stuff is war, but whatever.

Derek Kessler

Or peacekeeping missions.

BeheGOD

indeed pretty sweet that this stuff can be used in real life. I only hope that warfare doesn't become too much of a video-game..

Drew Oswalt

Using off the shelf products is smart. They are probably saving millions in money not being used for R/D. And of course over billing by unsavory corporations.

tmaze

Although this sounds sensible, is it necessary? I don't know enough about this type of vehicle to knwo - do they already have multiple cameras? If so, what advantage is the Oculus Rift over multiple screens? So much of this stuff is "Oh, wow!" but in warfare KISS would seem to have it's own advantages.

splatmaster99

Huh... Pretty neat. Not what one'd expect.

Tarun96

This is decidedly awesome.... Who wouldn't want this! You know what I would like to see it in.. A fighter plane or even to control those tiny instruments used in medical procedures. This thing has a wide range of applications. Hope this technology is improved in the coming years.

Sonicaholic

I hate to say it but the majority of technological advancements have come from military application, its good to see it not necessarily continuing in that trend. Personally I apaule violence of any kind and do believe there is always a diplomatic solution available, the only thing standing in the way of that process is the sheer arrogance of the majority of our world leaders.