Ben “The Stig” Collins and Formula Drift professional Matt Williams went head-to-head in a world first race, powered by Oculus Rift VR.
Powered by the same technology that lets us play videogames in VR, the drivers were basically driving ‘blind’. They raced around the track in real life, whilst all they could see was a futuristic course of procedurally generated obstacles – sheer drops and harsh twists replacing the tarmac of an LA race course.
We’ve driven cars, and played in VR, but have never – never – entertained the idea of doing both together. Travelling at speeds that exceed 50mph basically blind? That’s insane.
“I have taken on some extraordinary driving trials in my career, but this was certainly way up there,” said Collins of the race. “The hardest part was getting used to the VR world and truly letting myself go – putting my foot down and trusting my instinct over my rational brain. It’s hard when every bone in your body is telling you that what you can see isn’t real, but you know you’re still in control of a real car driving at speed. But with Castrol EDGE I knew the oil would be up to the job.”
The complex virtual reality code used to power the challenge was devised and developed over the course of 3 months by LA-based technologist duo, Adam Amaral and Glenn Snyder. The duo said:
“The really exciting thing about this project is that Castrol EDGE are using the same technology that the big automotive manufacturers are utilizing for autonomous cars but taking this is a new direction by fusing it with the virtual world to create something totally unique and ground – breaking, pushing the boundaries of both gaming and racing. One of the biggest challenges of developing this live racing technology was to overcome the problem of latency and ensure that there is no need for recalibration when it comes to the racers tracking. What we have achieved is the closest VR technology can currently get to full immersion”.