The appeal of virtual reality is the promise of being able to go anywhere—to ancient civilizations or fictional alien worlds—without ever leaving your home. Every day, technology brings this closer and closer to reality. What we did not expect was that virtual reality would also end up getting us punched in the face by robots. But that’s exactly what one engineer has made possible with a way-too-authentic VR fighting game.
YouTube user and robotics engineer James Bruton worked with Computer Games Technology final year students at England’s Portsmouth University to combine a virtual reality combat game with a physical robot who replicates the in-game punches of your opponent (which we learned about at The Verge). Given a shield and a foam sword, players must dodge and strike at the robot in the game, while the real one (outfitted with boxing gloves so no one is actually impaled by his wooden fists) tries to hit them in our actual reality.
While the “robot hardware is controlled over a serial interface,” the original VR game controls the robot, “which is tracked back into VR with Vive trackers so it stays in sync.” The real-life mechanical boxer, with its Arduino Mega interface to power it, is able to move like its virtual counterpart thanks to wheels and its 3D-printed pneumatic arms and foot pumps. It can even “drop” its shoulders to throw haymakers from different angles like a real fighter.
Okay, maybe it’s not exactly “haymakers” that are being thrown here. These look more like light jabs that would only do damage if you accidentally leaned your jaw into one. But hey, this is just the beginning, right? Maybe someday virtual reality will be able to let us go wherever we want whenever we want, to be fully immersed in worlds we’ve only dreamed of.
And then we’ll be able to actually get punched by a robot while we’re there. We can almost feel our mouths filling with blood just thinking about it.
Isn’t technology amazing?
Featured Image: James Bruton