Inspiration...

We were inspired to undertake this project to combine two emerging technologies — Virtual Reality and Drones. Our goal was to create an immersive virtual reality experience using the A.R. Drone 2.0, a consumer-level quadcopter, and Google Cardboard, an inexpensive and versatile VR headset.

What it does...

The 720p video feed from the drone is broadcasted onto Google Cardboard, enabling the user to “immerse” themselves in the drone’s world. Additionally, the user can pilot the drone using a PS3 controller.

How we built it...

Using Node.js, we were able to broadcast the drone's video to a computer's localhost and control it with a PS3 controller. We then used Xcode and Swift to access the computer's localhost and convert the drone's video feed into Google Cardboard format. Finally, we used an app called Duet Display to enable the Google Cardboard to display the video stream.

Challenges we ran into...

This project proved to be extremely difficult. We had several problems accessing the proprietary systems of the AR Drone. However, we comprised by using npm open-source libraries. Another extraordinary challenge we had was broadcasting the video to the iPhone with high resolution and low latency simultaneously. The drone stream worked perfectly on the iOS simulator, but the iPhone was unable to process the heavy input stream.

Accomplishments that we're proud of...

One of our proudest achievements was getting over that hurdle of streaming high res video to the iPhone with low latency. We used an app named Duet Display as a workaround to mirror the drone video stream to the iPhone.

What we learned...

We learned that handling large video streams was an arduous task, and we had to learn how to use systems such as Web Sockets and compression.

What's next for Drone VR?

Potential future applications include aerial cinematography, military reconnaissance, and even disability assistance.

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