One of the most exciting moments from the hit film Black Panther came to life today, as Nvidia’s Holodeck software enabled a driver using virtual reality to drive a car in the real world. Nvidia CEO Jensen Huang offered the demonstration at the 2018 GPU Technology Conference (GTC) as an aside while discussing autonomous car technologies, noting that he didn’t even have a name for what was being shown. “VR remote driving” would make sense.
You can see our video of the amazing feat for yourself here. As a live video shows a Ford Fusion appearing to drive itself, a remote driver wearing an HTC Vive steers the car from the GTC stage. The car is represented virtually as a Lexus similar to the one in Black Panther.
“There’s Tim right there, the invisible man,” said Huang, gesturing to a headset-wearing driver sitting in a virtual cockpit at the edge of the stage. “Tim’s view is very broad, he can see all of his hands and get a full perspective of everything that’s going on in the car. In the future, we can represent all kinds of lidar systems and everything.”
While Black Panther‘s futuristic chase through fast-moving traffic suddenly seems a lot closer than it did yesterday, Nvidia’s live demo moved cautiously — and that was probably for the best. Using virtual controls, the driver maneuvered the real car around a private lot, steering around a van and driving several hundred feet before parking the car. It will be interesting to see whether Nvidia takes this equally exciting and potentially dangerous concept any further.