Drive a REAL car blind to the REAL world while seeing only a VIRTUAL course. That was the challenge we were presented when approached by Castrol Edge. We had been working on a lot of Virtual Reality projects at the time but this was the biggest challenge we had been approached with. Track a moving car with pinpoint accuracy, so that professional drift racer Matt Powers could drive completely blind, was no easy task.
Some behind the scenes below:
Our first successful run of tracking the car.
We spent countless hours researching different positional tracking techniques that would allow us to track a car with little to no latency and with a refresh rate that would match the 75hz needed to run oculus rift smoothly.
Using a combination of onboard sensors paired with gps we were able to get accurate tracking of the car for up to 45 seconds at a time, which worked perfectly for our goal. Originally we thought, “oh no big deal lets strap a GPS on this thing and call it a day” boy were we wrong. First off even the best of GPS updated at 10Hz which is not nearly fast enough to keep up with a full speed car. Also the accuracy of traditional GPS is 3-5 meters which isn’t the pin point accuracy we wanted. Luckily we found a company called swiftnav that makes affordable RTK gps units. If your not familiar with RTK gps, its a method of combining two gps units, that triangulates each position and gives you an accuracy of up to 1cm! Perfect we thought, but only at 5hZ refresh rate. So we only were able to use the gps system to give us an extremely accurate starting position to place our real car accurately into our virtual world.
The next step was providing 1:1 feedback for the driver in both the real world and virtual world. We accomplished this by tapping into the cars CANBUS system, which allowed us to track the throttle, brake, e-brake, and steering angle at up to 1 million hZ refresh rate, just what we needed!
The final issue we ran into, is that the oculus Rift is not meant to be in a moving vehicle and because of this one of the issues is, if you turn the car, the Oculus Rift thinks your turning your head. To overcome this we used a 9DOF IMU which is equipped with accelerometer, gyroscope, and magnetometer , and subtracted the cars orientation from the Oculus Rift, we later added this info back on to feed the physics engine in Unreal Engine the proper orientation of the vehicle.
A feature from youtuber Austin Evans that goes a little more in depth on some of the work we did.
Oculus Rift, RTK GPS, 9DOF imu sensor, arduino, CANBUS, OBD, positional tracking, unreal engine
Creative Technologist: Adam Amaral & Glenn Snyder
VFX: Logan TV
Additional Programming: Michael Allar
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