Clearpath, Christie create video game with autonomous robots
Canadian technology leaders combine forces for an augmented reality enhanced version of robotic laser tag.
Kitchener, ON-based unmanned robotic vehicle firm, Clearpath Robotics, announced that it recently combined forces with fellow Kitchener resident Christie — best known for its video display and mapping technology — to create an interactive experience that’s half 3D video game and half robot laser tag.
“Teaming up with Christie allowed us to experiment with the latest 3D projection mapping technology in combination with our Jackal robots and open source software. This was our recipe for an augmented reality video game,” said Clearpath Robotics co-founder and CTO, Ryan Gariepy, following the company’s recent “hack week,” during which employees are encouraged to experiment with cutting edge technology in novel ways. “Combining both of our technologies resulted in a one-of-a-kind experience that was fun to work on and even more fun to play with.”
To create the game, Clearpath turned part of its warehouse space into an augmented reality “arena” in which players (or human vs. A.I.) maneuver the company’s own Jackal ground vehicles around obstacles in a small scale tank battle. Lidar systems mounted on the robotic vehicles, combined with the company’s localization and mapping software, allow the Jackal robots to learn the environment’s boundaries.
Using four of Christie’s HD14K-M 3DLP projectors mounted overhead, the team created a computer graphic overlay, beneath the vehicles, to display typical 3D video game conventions such as weapon caches, shield recharging areas, hitpoint counts and event-synced sound effects. Mounted in a two-by-two configuration, the projectors’ output was blended into one seemless 30-foot digital canvas by Christie’s edge blending and contour warping software, Christie AutoCal and Christie Twist.
While fun but seemingly frivolous, the Clearpath project was inspired by MIT researchers who used a similar system to graphically display the internal “thought processes” of unmanned vehicles. The hope is that such systems will help roboticists test and refine the AI algorithms that handle autonomous functions like path finding, collision avoidance and unit coordination.