Someone went and built a robot that punches you when you get hit in VR

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VR is great and all, but do you know what its biggest problem is? No, it’s not motion sickness and the need to throw up after long sessions, though that is certainly a close second. No, its biggest problem is that despite the improved focus on realism, it’s just still not immersive enough. It still feels too much like a game.

Imagine though that your VR experience could not just take you into a virtual world, but make you feel it too. Now that would certainly add to its immersion and is also the idea behind this bizarre robot idea that will see a robot actually throw punches at you when you’re in VR combat, making sure that you get to feel every part of the action.

The person behind this rather unique idea is robotics engineer and YouTube creator James Bruton who teamed up with University of Portsmouth students to create a robot that can fight in real-life while a human is playing in VR.

The robot wheels around on a wooden base, and has pneumatic punching arms made from 3D-printed parts and foot pumps. It’s powered by an Arduino Mega interface while Vive trackers in the room track the robot’s arms and the player’s headsets and a baseball bat. The robot’s movements are synced to a custom-made VR game, and it wears boxing gloves to soften the blow so players don’t get murdered.

It’s certainly a fun concept and while l don’t quite think it’s going to do anything more other than being a nice video and academic exercise, it’s still fun nonetheless. It would be interesting though if they could somehow develop proper feedback sensor to mimic this kind of idea in VR sensor and controls, with an interface for game manufacturers to utilise to ensure gamers get to feel their VR experience too. And an even shorter one as I will probably get a concussion long before I need to throw-up.

Last Updated: May 17, 2019

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