What’s going to be the future of IMC flight under IFR? Well, here you get a glimpse of a VR future. Don’t look out to try to find the runway environment, look into your Oculus and see it bright and clear. In this video, Thrust Vector shows actual footage from the “in-cockpit VR” tests they did this summer featuring a 100% synthetic view.
The Texas based company claims they flew more than 20 approaches using an Oculus paired to a Stratux, the low cost, home made or fully assembled ADS-B-in receiver.
A recent article on Upload reported that CTO John Nagle revealed that they used mapping software Mapbox along with the Unity world engine and Oculus Go in this case because it represents the lowest cost VR device, and they wanted to show it was fundamentally capable enough to work.
In a video demonstration, Nagle is shown piloting an airplane with co-founder John Paul Sommer as “safety pilot.” Inside Oculus Go, an application renders visuals for Nagle based in the information supplied by an open source ADS-B sensor called Stratux, which also has an AHRS capability (Attitude and Heading Reference System.) It uses a WAAS-enhanced GPS for position.
Most interestingly, the device is airplane referenced as well. This compensates for the head moving and also the aircraft moving, rendering an actual picture of the exact user viewpoint. The safety pilot was aboard to ensure that the flight was conducted safely.
The question of FAA approval was also discussed, as the device is not permanently attached to the aircraft, but, rather like headsets, worn by the flight crew.
This is, of course a potential game changer for safety, and one that would diminish the workload of IMC weather conditions flying. Still it probably has a long way to go before becoming legal. In the meantime, the experience of using VR on simulators adds important data to the effort. X-Plane has announced full support for VR, a trend that we expect will continue to bring more innovation in the world of simulator-based training.