Take a SEGA OutRun arcade cabinet, strap on a go-kart and get a university to fund the whole thing, and you’re approaching Garnet Hertz’s “immersive driving experience” project. The UC Irvine post-doctoral researcher has adapted the road-ready (though we’re not sure how legal) setup to track the upcoming highway and convert it into the 8-bit on-screen graphics. That way, you drive a real vehicle down a virtual road.
Given there’s more to road safety than tracking the white lines Hertz’s system follows in order to fashion its graphics – which come complete with OutRun-style palm trees, naturally – the golf cart based vehicle only manages a 15mph top speed. Hopefully the driver thus has enough attention to keep an eye on other vehicles and pedestrians.
Still, the researcher doesn’t actually expect any of this to end up on the open road; instead, it’s intended to highlight the limitations of computer vision and the discrepancies between real-life and games. “No matter how good computer vision is, it is never going to be completely perfect” Hertz explains, “Computer vision is never as good, as complete, as the real world.”