How are VR and Autonomous Vehicles integrating — now and in the future?

Earlier this year, Nvidia announced their DRIVE Constellation platform at their Keynote.

This should have been a massive announcement, picked up by everyone. But it wasn’t. Why?

DRIVE represents a fantastical place in VR’s journey in which humans and computers themselves co-exist.

It is the very first mainstream VR training simulation delivered — not for humans — but for a computer stack.

To hugely paraphrase their ideas, this gives computers their own smart cloud system to test thousands of photorealistic road simulations in VR — for the ‘on-board computers’ in autonomous vehicles themselves to deep learn.

Once more, that’s:

Computers Sitting In VR, Using It To Re-Learn And Better Their Algorithms, To Drive Cars.

Image credit: Uber

If that doesn’t blow your mind, you should probably leave now.

Or, maybe you already know how this kind of R&D has been happening across the defence industry for a while to create clever computer vision tracking systems:

Image source: Virtual Reality for Enhanced Computer Vision journal.

But the pace of development in different training scenarios to support the delivery of lots of AI computers, in different sectors (such as AI car computers for AVs) is scaling globally. And fast.

For the future of AVs, virtual reality is currently being used to test billions of miles concurrently. This is to make these vehicles safe — for passengers, and for the vehicles themselves to practice every possibility, on every route.

Driver/Autonomy Control safety and compliance in VR

Virtual Reality (VR) Training already exists as a service platform — from people like EON Reality and STRIVR.

Virtual Trainer —VR as a Service (VRaaS) by EON Reality (Disclosure: that’s where I work)

This combined method and medium of learning will be the default safety training platform for Autonomous Vehicle managers and ‘override drivers’ to support faster manual reactions to faults — as well as train the AI-powered computer vision within the Autonomous Vehicles themselves.

While it doesn’t bode well for the future of driving as a vocation, it bodes incredibly well for people who can’t, won’t, or are not physically or mentally able to drive.

VR: Default In-Vehicle Passenger Entertainment

Over in the day job, my colleague Chris who is one of the trainers at the VR Innovation Academy says he takes his Samsung GearVR onto planes, and it constantly piques the curiosity of the people around him as he straps a box onto his face while settling in for a flight.

He goes on to explain that he carries his own cinema around when he’s travelling — and in talking about it, instantly converts another non-immersive person into the world of VR… and probably, should also be on some sort of commission from Samsung. 😶

I digress.

As such, in the AVs — coaches, planes and ships of the future — VR entertainment will be utilised to entertain passengers with personal cinemas. This will probably be via contact lenses which link seamlessly with people’s home accounts for streaming entertainment. Be that games, films, TV; regardless of being on the the same web connection or not, your VR library of entertainment will always be in sync. (Writing that as a ‘fact’ already feels old-fashioned.)

VR Will Provide Digital Management of Motion Sickness

The photorealism of VR — and the curing of its own motion sickness issues in inciting this — in the future will deliver (completely wirelessly, and again, in a contact lens) psychomotor and oculomotor-affecting environments that ease and eliminate the sheer aggro of motion sickness and vergence conflict.

For the VR to work, the hardware would have to work in tandem/twin with advanced seat suspension inside AVs to digitally manage the kinds of specific oculomotor patterns which create motion sickness, while the design and the software creates focus for the varying idiosyncrasies (for some people) with stereoscopy and vergence-accomodation conflict.

Image Source:
Augmented Computer Vision VR by Andrew Nakas, Google PlayStore.

This kind of digital symptom treatment will simply sit within a growing Pharma 2.0 trend, which is slowly introducing digital medication as supplement and replacement for chemical meds (You’re welcome, phD person who researches this — please, report back because my motion sickness is appalling after 4 hours+ in the same seat)…

So. Next time Nvidia — or anyone smartly repositoning their entire software business as a cloud-based AI industry leader— announce they’re moving their VR-AI deep learning car computers into a data centre, we should probably all sit up.

And listen.

Image Credit: Nvidia on Twitter

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