If a 20-ton autonomous truck is hurtling down a highway what’s the failsafe option when something goes wrong that its electronic brain cannot deal with? One possibility would be for a live human to “teleport” into the truck and take over the controls. This near-sci-fi scenario was played out in real life within the Holodeck VR environment, a virtual workspace, developed by NIVIDIA that allows multiple individuals to interact with each other and a common simulated environment.

During the closing moments of the Keynote speech at NIVIDIA’s 2018 GPU Developer Conference. Jensen Huang, NVIDIA’s CEO, asked “If you have a car in self-driving car, humans are the backup system. But what about an autonomous machine with no operators? It could be a tractor with no driver. So, how do we create a backup system. We know virtual reality has ability to teleport us into a new world.  So, imagine that, using VR, we can teleport ourselves into the mind of an autonomous car.”

“Imagine there’s a car somewhere in the world that we need to help” said Huang. The screen behind Huang displayed a scene created within Holodeck VR that showed a virtual car in the middle of a laboratory. “It’s rendered like in the Matrix - and it’s shown live” said Huang. “Meanwhile, Tim, our virtual reality driver, is sitting on the stage – and he’s inside the Holodeck. 

The walls of the virtual lab within the Holodeck showed a live video stream being piped in from a parking lot just outside the convention center where the actual event was being held. The video included the image of the actual car that was portrayed as a VR image within the holodeck. At that point Tim, in virtual form, entered the virtual car within the holodeck and took over the controls of the actual car.

 Once at the virtual wheel, Tim maneuvered the car past a couple of obstacles and parked it in another space a few hundred feet away. “So, it’s like three layers of Inception,” Jensen said. “Tim is in reality, projected into a VR environment which lets him control a car that’s in the real world. Teleportation, the future has arrived,” Jensen concluded.

To watch Jensen Huang’s full keynote at the 2018 NVIDIA GPU Developer’s Forum, click here

NVIDIA CEO Jensen Huang demonstrates how a real-world human can use a virtual relaity environment to remotely drive a real-world car. Image: NIVIDIA