Drones are most certainly used for espionage, too, but it’s one thing to see the surveilled area in a recording or live on a monitor, and a totally different thing to be the drone and see things through its
It all depends on the quality of the camera and on its zooming capabilities, but aside from that, the idea of having first-person view while piloting a drone is simply incredible. The developers of the Oculus Rift device must have intended it only for gaming, but given the fact that there aren’t that many games out there that support this virtual reality system, people had to find other uses for it.
The Oculus FPV experiment was made by Intuitive Aerial, the manufacturer of the Black Armor Drone. In this context, it comes as no surprise that Erik Torkel Danielsson, the co-founder of the company, has paired this particular drone with the Oculus Rift VR headset.
Inside the Oculus Rift there are two displays that correspond to each of the eyes. So that the perceived image feels more realistic, the drone had to carry two cameras. Fortunately, the Black Armor Drone hexacopter is great at carrying such payloads.
The Black Armor Drone is also capable of encoding the video right after recording it, with the help of the on-board laptop. The video is next transmitted wirelessly to a computer on the ground, and from there it finally gets to the Oculus Rift. The VR headset does not come with wireless connectivity, hence the need for a middle man. Obviously, if the video were transmitted directly from the drone to the Oculus Rift, there wouldn’t be such a great lag. According to Danielsson, there is a 120 milliseconds latency that to some is not such a big deal, while for others is very noticeable.
Needless to say, Intuitive Aerial looks to improve this experiment, and that can be achieved in two ways: first of all, the weight of the hardware carried by the drone should be reduced. Secondly, using better hardware could lower the latency, thus making the POV drone perfect for surveillance missions.
At this point, no one is willing to admit the military applications that such a project might have. But to get there, the Oculus Rift – Black Armor Drone couple needs to communicate better with each other. Of course, the battery of the drone would also be a problem, along with the range within which it can be controlled.