According to a Norwegian site report, the Norwegian Army is experimenting on the Oculus Rift virtual reality headsets as a way to let their tank drivers see their surroundings.
The Oculus Rift started out as a gaming peripheral but there are a lot of other implementations that these devices could be used for. It seems like the Norwegian military is one of those who are early to adapt this latest move to help out their tank drivers.
The challenge is the limited visibility of tank drivers within the tanks. Vision is extremely limited within the heavily armored vehicle and the feature that is being tested out on the Oculus Rift would be to have a custom 360 degree camera system that lets the drivers see through the tank. This works by having 4 separate cameras that each film from a side of the tank. The image that is captured is transferred through to a PC and then on to the Oculus Rift, thus allowing the drivers to see throughout their surroundings, even when their visibility is hampered. It?s like displaying a virtual world on to the headset, but what is being shown is actually reality.
The system could be game changing for tank drivers, but it is still in its early trial phase and there are a lot of hurdles to overcome. For instance, there?s going to be the motion sickness problems that regular gamers have also experienced with the headset. Drivers probably won?t be able to use the headset for long periods of time and they may only need to use the headset when the tank?s hatch is closed. In more combat oriented situations, a noticeable problem would be when the cameras get damaged. If that?s the case, drivers would be blind on some sides.
Even with these issues, the military is continuing to test the potential of the Oculus Rift as creating a new technology from scratch would probably cost a whole lot more. If these current issues can be addressed in the future, we could be looking at a potential cost saving solution for improved operations for closed armored vehicles.
Photo Source: Oculus Rift official website