Virtual Reality Rides – Next Generation Driving Fun

Higher, faster, further – that is the motto of every new roller coaster. In search of the ultimate adrenaline rush, park visitors now expect more. Robot-based virtual reality rides promise a new thrill.

Virtual reality (VR) glasses have meanwhile established themselves in numerous application areas. One area that has been in the spotlight right from the start is the entertainment industry. In addition to VR films or games, numerous VR experiences have also appeared. These include, for example, the virtual ride in a roller coaster. The complete immersion into the virtual world is only disturbed by one thing: the feeling of speed or the effect of the G-forces on the passengers is missing. The goal was to appeal to all senses in the virtual world as well as possible and to perfect the feeling of simulation. To this end, amusement parks have recently begun to rely on a combination of VR experience and a robot-based ride, such as the KUKA passenger robot.

Software-based real-time simulation

The KUKA robot is capable of tracking the movements that passengers see in their VR glasses. This combination creates unique experiences for the passengers. For example, familiar scenarios from Hollywood films can be recreated in virtual reality. The exact correspondence between the movements of the KUKA passenger robot and the VR experiences is realized using special software from BEC. “Based on the VR content, our software converts the movements shown into the robot’s movements in real time. This is unique worldwide,” says Martin Gerlich of BEC.

Unique driving experience

The optimization of the robot movement also plays a decisive role for a realistic experience. Martin Gerlich gives an example: “The robot has a limited range. This would lead to problems with longer accelerations, as the travel path of the robot arm would eventually end. We therefore simulate acceleration with a linear motion before letting the robot tilt back slightly. That way the passengers are pushed into the seat. While they think they are moving forward, the robot actually moves back.” In addition, the robot-based VR ride overcomes the motion sickness problem of virtual reality. This is because the feeling of dizziness in VR applications only occurs when the information from the visual apparatus does not correspond to the sensations of the sense of balance.

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