Valve’s Lighthouse VR tracking system could help robots understand their location

Valve Lighthouse Robotics

The magic in Valve’s VR prototypes isn’t just in the headset. It’s in the positional tracking of the controllers. That tracking may have many other uses: including helping robot drones understand where they are in space. People who make robots are pretty excited. 

“Honestly, the rumors didn’t do it justice: it’s really elegant!” exclaimed Travis Deyle of Hizook. “I think this technology could be a “big deal” for robotics too.”

The Lighthouse transmitter located in Valve’s game-controller prototype relies on a bank of infrared LEDs, and two spinning IR lasers to sweep a 3D environment and determine a location based on the time it takes for light to travel.

This technology is important for two reasons: price and versatility. The photodiodes used in the receiver comes in at just $0.01 a pop, and they’re so small and lightweight that their potential application is boundless.

Here’s what Alan Yates of Valve had to say about the Lighthouse:

“A simple optical position tracking & navigation technique for maker projects. Want your robot or quadcopter to know where it is and where it is pointing in free space? Lighthouse is a scalable way to implement 3 or 6-DoF navigation for your project.”

If you’re thinking this is all of little use to you, then think again. There’s a future in VR as we will inevitably try and expand on it. In fact, it’s already happening: a theme-park called The Void is already developing a complete VR experience inside a giant life-sized FPS game; robotic applications will only further it.

Source: Hizook.