New technology will allow you to drive without any windows! Yep, you read that right. Augmented and virtual reality glasses paired with a panoramic wraparound window display will allow drivers to see what’s outside a windowless vehicle. It’s called Generation X Vehicle Technology or GXV-T and it provides a driver with an easy-to-use experience that prevents motion sickness symptoms. The hope is that this technology will better protect our men and women on the battlefield.
“We create situational awareness where the driver, while protected by armor, can fully operate the vehicle effectively,” said Brian Aleksa, Senior Technical Research & Development Manager.
The technology was a result of a partnership with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA. DARPA invests in revolutionary, not evolutionary technology. Senior Fellow, Bill Hancock, was the Program Manager and the very first person to drive with the vision system.
“We were debating on when we’d be able to take it out and finally I was like let’s just cut to the chase and take it out today,” said Hancock.
We talked with him about what the experience was like.
“It was kind of like we were making history,” said Hancock. “It was like a toddler learning how to walk.”
Hancock wasn’t the only person who got to test-drive GXV-T. When DARPA came to town for field testing, the team asked Aviation Technician and racecar driver, Joshua Shipley, to hop in the driver’s seat.
“At first it was nerve racking, almost made your stomach tighten up, but then I was like ‘WOW!’ I can almost see as good as if the windows were open,” said Shipley. “After the first 30-seconds of driving it, I was like, I’m ready to put the pedal to the metal and drive this thing fast! We were up over jumps and I was comfortable and I think they said we were up over 30 miles per hour at one time.”
A structured human factors assessment with 10 professional drivers on an off-road course demonstrated the capabilities of the vision system. The project was a success thanks to a relatively small, but dedicated team who delivered on schedule and within budget.
“The amount of time that these guys put into it and staying late every day in short amount of calendar months that they got this done it was incredible,” said Shipley.