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Has anyone experimented with the HTC VIVE as a drone groundstation?

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I'm exploring using an HD 360 video live feed into Unreal using the HDMI out on my 3DR Solo drone controller. Later I think it would be awesome to integrate a second gimbal camera feed (in a window) in the VR view, and mapping the controls to the VIVE controllers (the 3DR solo is all open source so this should be feasible with time and coding effort). I think VR has a lot of potential for realtime video and data dashboards... we live in exciting times!

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 - I've seen lots of experiments and art projects experiment with drones + Vive but nothing that anybody is using as a daily driver for professional dronework. The primary issue here is threefold:

  • Most drones are proprietary and typically do not have hardware or API developer access.
    • FPV drone racing is an important market to manufacturers  - many companies want to sell you their in-house HMD solution that is designed to work specifically with your drone.
    • You'd need to transmit back video at a pretty high bandwidth for the footage to be high-quality enough to actually be useful in-flight; otherwise it will be a compressed mess which turns into a saftey hazard when flying. For 360, that requirement is even higher.
  • Control systems for unmanned ariel vehicles are tricky are usually federally regulated - The FCC/FAA is usually involved. 
  • Vive is an indoor VR setup - setting it up ouside is counterindicated. 

At the end of the day though, OpenVR and everything that drives the Vive is open enough that there's no reason why you couldn't do something like this. Your drone will be the limiting factor followed by practicality - I don't see that specific drone being super mod friendly outside of the HMDI port. 


Based on your post - here's what you could probably do for video:

  • Hook up the HDMI-out from your controller into a capture card so the device shows up on your computer as a webcam. You may be able to use a USB capture card but PCI-E capture cards work best.
  • Use OVRDrop, Remote Desktop, or some other tool to display that camera feed in the Vive. This is going to be the easiest pathway to get your drone footage in the HMD in real time. 

Per controls, you're pretty much SOL unless that controller/drone specifically has API's/SDKs for interfacing with the hardware. 

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