The Norwegian army is getting some virtual help steering their massive tanks thanks to Oculus Rift. When you're driving a tank, it's difficult to see. It becomes even more difficult when the hatch is closed during combat. The Norwegian Armed Forces have been seeking a way around this, and through some cleverly mounted cameras on the outside of the tank and the headset, they were able to achieve it.
There are four cameras positioned on each side of the tank, filming in each direction. The video is transferred through a computer to Oculus Rift, which creates a 360-degree view in the headset for the driver. The system cost around $2,000, which is an absolute bargain by military hardware standards.
Combat Lab major Ola Petter Odden is a fan of the Oculus system: "Normally, you would be more or less blind, because there is armor all around you. With this system, you can see just as well if you were seeing out the hatch. It's more strenuous for the eyes, since it's a synthetic picture, so it will be used when you think you could be shot at."
Oculus Rift is often used for virtual reality and video games, but the experience of driving a tank with it on is not unlike gaming: "Those who play Battlefield can see much better than you do in an actual vehicle," said project member Daniel Ervik. "With our software, you can add elements we are used to from games."
Watch it in action here: