Sky Challenge wants to create a new massive sport, one that would allow you to race against real stunt airplanes, flying through virtual doughnuts and gates up in the real sky. To do that, they are using a mix of technologies that that allow real planes to be precisely tracked, as well as letting real world pilots see the course and the computer planes around them. Here's how it works: • The real world scenario is introduced in the computer and a race course is programmed. • The real planes use a Global Positioning System combined with an Inertial Navigation System, which is needed to compensate for the lack of accuracy in the GPS. This is critical while doing acrobatic maneuvers because the GPS can't get a clear signal at that time. • The tracking information is then relayed to the servers, where it gets integrated in the virtual gaming grid. • Simultaneously, the virtual planes position is sent to the real airplanes, where the pilots can see where the other planes and obstacles are located. In the future, the company wants to make these races a major televised event, where everyone can participate from home using their computers. [Air Sports Live via BBC News]
I can imagine the virtual pilots messing with the physical pilot's mind and freaking them out by crashing their own virtual planes into the ground, or worse, by flying into the physical pilots' planes.
Sure it's just an image, but it's still freaky and disorienting, especially if several participants do it.
Then again, virtual pilots will probably have to pay a hefty fee to be part of this, so I suppose only serious people will be flying.