The Oculus Rift VR Headset Can Now Control Aerial Drones

The Oculus Rift has been getting a great deal of publicity lately. I'm not terribly surprised, truth be told - it's a downright awesome peripheral, with the potential to introduce a whole new layer to the games industry. Factor in that the organization behind the Rift wants to eventually release the hardware for free, and you've a recipe for something grand.

What? It's not out of context.What? It's not out of context.

Although the hardware is still in devkit mode at the moment, it's already received support for the Unreal Engine 4, and has seen implementation into a wide array of different games, such as Minecraft, Half-Life 2, Portal 2, and Team Fortress 2.  It's even been used as an execution simulator. Yeah...admittedly, that last one's a little weird. Pretty cool though.

Even cooler, however, is what a group known as Intuitive Aerial is planning. They've strapped a bunch of cameras (and a laptop) to a flying drone, connected it to the Rift, and sent the drone into the air. This basically lets the user see things from the drone's perspective, while controlling its flight-path. The entire package is known as the Oculus FPV.

Right now, Intuitive Aerial's product is pretty basic, and more than a little amusing to look at - it's essentially a robotic aircraft with a massive wooden box strapped to the bottom. The drone is controlled with a massive gamepad, and a second laptop on the ground receives the video captured from the rig in the air. Unfortunately, this limits the flight range of the drone a bit; it's only able to fly around 50 to 100 meters before the video cuts out. The video latency is somewhere around 120ms.

In the future, says the company, they hope to utilize the functionality of the Rift to a greater degree by adding upgraded cameras with fisheye lenses that will allow the player to look around while the drone is in flight. No word yet on what they're going to do about the laptop setup, but I'm sure they've something up their hat to make everything look just a bit less jerry-rigged.