VR environments are meant to be immersive, but if you’ve ever thought what was missing is being actually pummeled by robotic fists, then James Bruton’s newest project could be just the thing.
Bruton recently teamed up with students from Portsmouth University to build a robot that works in the real world, and coordinates its movements with a virtual setting displayed on the human’s headset.
The robot itself is controlled by an Arduino Mega, and features a differential (tank) drive with encoders for feedback. Shoulders can tilt from left to right, and the actual punching motion is handled by pneumatic actuators built from modified bicycle pumps. Robo-fists are covered by boxing gloves to keep humans relatively safe, and flesh-based competitors are given a small shield and sword-bat with which to fight back!
I worked on this project with final year degree students in Computer Games Technology at Portsmouth University CCI faculty. The robot hardware is controlled over a serial interface, the team built an VR game which controls the robot, so when you get hit in VR you get hit in real life! The robot is tracked back into VR with Vive trackers so it stays in sync.