DIY Robotic Platform Aims To Solve Walking In VR

[Mark Dufour]’s TACO VR project is a sort of robotic platform that mimics an omnidirectional treadmill, and aims to provide a compact and easily transportable way to allow a user to walk naturally in VR.

Unenthusiastic about most solutions for allowing a user to walk in VR, [Mark] took a completely different approach. The result is a robotic platform that fits inside a small area whose sides fold up for transport; when packed up, it resembles a taco. When deployed, the idea is to have two disc-like platforms always stay under a user’s feet, keeping the user in one place while they otherwise walk normally.

It’s an ambitious project, but [Mark] is up to the task and the project’s GitHub repository has everything needed to stay up to date, or get involved yourself. The hardware is mainly focused on functionality right now; certainly a fall or stumble while using the prototype looks like it would be uncomfortable at the very best, but the idea is innovative.

When stowed for storage or transport, the system resembles a taco.

Locomotion issues as a whole are still not entirely solved problems in VR. It’s a space in which inspired hobbyists can absolutely experiment and innovate in a meaningful way. After all, the unique locomotion system in Gorilla Tag — a VR multiplayer game in which players are legless gorillas who move using only their arms — is a fantastic success and was the work of a single inspired developer. There’s definitely room for experimentation.

The TACO platform is a work in progress, but the pieces are coming together. You can see a test in the video below, in which two green markers represent a user’s feet. Watch the two platforms move and rotate as necessary to stay beneath the user’s (simulated) feet, meaning a user could walk normally, yet not move anywhere.

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