Drexel TPED's VR Bike v1.0
This project was a collaborative effort between faculty members and undergraduate students at Drexel University, majors including Product Design, Game Design, Marketing, Animation, Mechanical Engineering, and Electrical Engineering. Drexel TPED was specifically in charge of the concept, design, and construction of the motion base. We also had an Electrical Engineer who added buttons to the throttles of the bike as well as two Game Design Majors who assisted with the creation of the VR games. Those same Game Design Majors then represented Drexel TPED at SIGGRAPH 2018, where the bike was presented to the public for the first time!
We began brainstorming for the bike in September 2017, creating rough sketches and then ultimately SolidWorks models. We created a BOM, as budgeting was a huge concern for this project. The original plan was for the motion base to have three degrees of motion (pitch, roll, yaw), with the base being a mixture between human power and machine power. Due to financial issues, however, we had to cut out pitch, cut out any plans of any actuators, and figure out a way to combine roll and yaw into one movement. We went back to the drawing board, problem-solved, and ultimately came up with a design that was in scope. We then ordered the materials, and started building a prototype in January 2018. It took a couple of builds to perfectly figure out how to combine roll and yaw into one movement, but in April 2018, we were able to start building the final design. The motion base was officially completed in July 2018. In August 2018, we presented it to the public for the first time at SIGGRAPH 2018!
The VR games began development in April 2018. The game designers brainstormed ideas and then conducted rapid prototyping. The idea was that we would treat the bike as an arcade, where in the end, we would have a library of games that the player could choose from. Though the motion base would look like a bike and move like a bike, within the game, it didn't have to be a bike! Ideas ranged from a UFO that destroyed buildings while collecting brains to a paper airplane simulator to a wild pig on a farm. After the concept stage, the game designers split up into six teams, developing six different two-minute experiences. Two of those experiences were green-lit to be showed at SIGGRAPH 2018. Those two games were finished in August 2018, right before the conference. They were created in Unity and ran on the HTC Vive headset through SteamVR. One was a beach-themed Mario Kart experience and the other, an exploration through a procedurally-generated Tron-like cityscape.
Presented as a prototype, this first iteration is all human-powered, with roll and yaw combined into one movement. Gas springs are used to reset the player to center. HTC Vive trackers are on the bike to track it's movement, which provides input into the game. There are also buttons on each throttle that allows the player to provide even more input to the game. For future iterations, we plan on adding pitch, adding 4D effects like a rumble seat, and even possibly exploring how we could integrate motion capture.
Check out these pictures to see the design process!
Check out these pictures to see the bike in action at SIGGRAPH 2018!
For more info about this project: http://digm.drexel.edu/acelab/vr-cycle-ride-project/