Virtual reality roller coaster

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A virtual reality roller coaster is a special kind of amusement park ride attraction, consisting of a roller coaster facility or ride that can be experienced with virtual reality headsets.[1] The first publicly operated virtual reality roller coasters have been opened in late 2015.[2][3] Since then, several theme parks all over the world have been adapting this technology to extend their existing coaster facilities.[4][5]

A train of Superman – The Ride Virtual Reality Coaster at the Six Flags New England theme park. Riders are wearing Gear VR virtual reality headsets.

Background and history[edit]

A train of Superman – The Ride Virtual Reality Coaster at the Six Flags New England theme park. Riders are wearing Gear VR virtual reality headsets.

In 2013, a company called FLUKOM, developed a solution for Virtual Reality roller coasters[6], the company was integrated in 2014 in the VR company Astral Vision[7] which developed a unique wearable technology for theme park rides. Astral's technology uses smart algorithms and mobile phone’s sensors to sync between the virtual and the physical worlds. No additional sensors (e.g. on Roller Coaster) are required.

While virtual reality roller coaster simulations quickly became quite popular after the appearance of the Oculus Rift, it showed that dizziness and motion sickness, known as Virtual reality sickness, would be a major problem.[8] This was caused by the offset between the simulated motion in virtual reality and the lack of real motion, as the inner Sense of balance wouldn't feel the appropriate forces and turns.[9] In order to test if this could be overcome by synchronizing virtual reality movement to real motion, a research group of the University of Applied Sciences, Kaiserslautern, led by Thomas Wagner, together with roller coaster manufacturer Mack Rides and Europa-Park, has been conducting experiments on actual roller coaster facilities since early 2014.[10] It showed that, with a precise synchronization, not only the nausea would disappear, but also a new kind of attraction was created as, for the first time, this setup allowed for a simulation ride to feature continuous g-forces, zero gravity and drops (or so called Air-time).

Still, the technical setup of the 2014 experiments was not feasible yet for a permanent installation. Most of all, mounting a computer on a coaster train would not have worked due to the continuous heavy vibrations; also the usual cable connection of a classical virtual reality headset like the Oculus Rift would have meant a serious safety hazard. Wagner and his team could eventually overcome these problems by deploying so called mobile virtual reality headsets like the Samsung Gear VR, where the entire image generation happens directly inside of the actual headset. The very first virtual reality roller coaster installations have been opened to the public in late 2015,[11] starting at Europa-Park, Germany, followed by Canada's Wonderland[12] and Universal Studios Japan,[13] all of them developed by the startup company VR Coaster, which originated from Wagners Research Group.[14]

As of June 2016, 17 theme parks worldwide are operating virtual reality roller coasters (list). The latest installations can be found in Six Flags parks, themed with Superman content from the DC Universe.[15][16]

Technical solutions[edit]

Key to a comfortable virtual reality experience on an actual moving ride attraction is a precise synchronization of the virtual ride animation.[17][18] To achieve this, the coaster train is equipped with special hardware that monitors the position of the train in the track layout and then wirelessly transmits this information to the headsets of the riders.[19][18][20] This is also crucial, as the virtual reality experience needs to run in absolute tracking mode (unlike relative tracking when used at home, where the virtual reality view automatically rotates with a virtual vehicle), so without a precise tracking solution, curves and turns would not be in the right place. In other words, a virtual cockpit must always turn and travel in exactly the same direction as the real coaster car, which would not be possible without an automated synchronization. Still, as the human sense of balance can't detect absolute velocities but only acceleration and turns, speed and dimensions can be altered in virtual reality.[21] Even curves can be bent to different angles, as long as the relative direction of the turn is preserved (clockwise or counterclockwise).[22]

Experience[edit]

As virtual reality allows for several modifications and extensions of the actual track layout, the size of the virtual reality track can be much larger than the real one.[23] This of course means that speeds can be much faster and heights much taller, as these aspects also grow with the increased dimensions. Most of all, there is no need to show an actual track or rails (which would give away what element comes next), other than for dramaturgical reasons. As the rider is totally immersed in the virtual reality world, one can even be tricked by giving hints on a wrong track direction and then e.g. have a giant creature grabbing the virtual cockpit and carrying it into a different direction (which turns out to be the actual direction of the rails). Also, the effect of physical track elements like block brakes can be utilized in the virtual reality experience for dramatic elements like crashing through a virtual barrier or building[24] Riders report after their first virtual reality roller coaster ride that it is unlike anything they have ever experienced before.[25]

Operation[edit]

Riders are provided with virtual reality headsets to wear whilst on the ride. These headsets may be portable, or permanently attached to the ride itself and will display a synchronised video to the riders who experience the motions of the ride combined with the alternate reality provided through the headsets. After the ride, headsets are sanitised and (where applicable) recharged for future use.

In most cases, the virtual reality aspect of the ride is optional, and in some cases a supplement may be required for use.

Appearances[edit]

In Operation? Name Name of Roller Coaster Type Duration Length in Meters VR optional? Opening Roller Coaster Manufacturer VR Developer Park Country City, Region Note
YesY Alpenexpress Coastiality Alpenexpress Enzian[26] Powered Coaster 1:40 264 YesY

5/19 VR-Rows

September 17, 2015[27] Mack Rides MackMedia and VR Coaster[28] Europa-Park  Germany Rust, Baden-Württemberg
YesY Thunder Run VR Thunder Run[29] Powered Coaster 1:24 330,1 YesY October 3, 2015 Mack Rides VR Coaster Canada's Wonderland  Canada Vaughan, Ontario
YesY VR Coaster Freedom Flyer[30] Suspended Family Coaster 1:00 395 YesY November 16, 2015 Vekoma VR Coaster Fun Spot America  United States Orlando, Florida VR Demonstration at IAAPA 2015
No Kyary Pamyu Pamyu XR Ride Space Fantasy: The Ride[31] Spinning Coaster 2:35 585 YesY January 14, 2016[32][33] Mack Rides VR Coaster Universal Studios Japan  Japan Osaka, Osaka
YesY Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster Shock Wave Sit-Down Coaster 2:00 1097,3 YesY March 10, 2016 Schwarzkopf VR Coaster Six Flags Over Texas  United States Arlington, Texas
No Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster Dare Devil Dive Sit-Down Coaster 639,8 YesY March 12, 2016 Gerstlauer Amusement Rides VR Coaster Six Flags Over Georgia  United States Austell, Georgia
No Pegasus Coastiality Pegasus Youngstar Coaster 1:30 400 YesY

4/10 VR-Rows

March 17, 2016 Mack Rides Ambient Entertainment, VR Coaster and MackMedia Europa-Park  Germany Rust, Baden-Württemberg
YesY Dinolino's VR-Ride Familienachterbahn Sit-Down Coaster 1:25 222 YesY March 19, 2016[34] Zierer VR Coaster Erlebnispark Schloss Thurn  Germany Heroldsbach, Bayern
YesY Galactica Air[35] Flying Coaster 1:40 840 YesY March 24, 2016 Bolliger & Mabillard Figment Productions Alton Towers Resort  United Kingdom Alton, Staffordshire Moorlands World's first rollercoaster fully dedicated to Virtual Reality
YesY Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster New Revolution Sit-Down Coaster 2:12 1053,7 YesY March 25, 2016 Schwarzkopf VR Coaster Six Flags Magic Mountain  United States Valencia, California
YesY Mount Mara[36] Revolution Sit-Down Coaster 2:20 720 YesY March 26, 2016 Vekoma VR Coaster Bobbejaanland  Belgium Lichtaart, Antwerp
YesY Linnunrata eXtra[37] Linnunrata Sit-Down Coaster 0:50 360 YesY May 1, 2016 Zierer VR Coaster Linnanmäki  Finland Helsinki, Uusimaa, Finland
No The New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster Goliath Hyper Coaster 1231 YesY May 19, 2016 Bolliger & Mabillard VR Coaster La Ronde  Canada Montréal, Québec
YesY Iron Dragon Iron Dragon Suspended Coaster 2:00 853 YesY May 24, 2016 Arrow Dynamics VR Coaster Cedar Point  United States Sandusky, Ohio
YesY Galactic Attack Virtual Reality Coaster Ninja Sit-Down Coaster 2:00 740,7 YesY May 24, 2016 Vekoma VR Coaster Six Flags St. Louis  United States Eureka, Missouri
YesY SUPERMAN Ride of Steel Virtual Reality Coaster Superman - Ride of Steel Mega Coaster 2:10 1630,7 YesY June 8, 2016 Intamin Amusement Rides VR Coaster Six Flags America  United States Upper Marlboro, Maryland
YesY SUPERMAN Krypton Coaster Virtual Reality Coaster Superman Krypton Coaster Floorless Coaster 2:35 1226,8 YesY June 8, 2016 Bolliger & Mabillard VR Coaster Six Flags Fiesta Texas  United States San Antonio, Texas
YesY SUPERMAN The Ride Virtual Reality Coaster Superman the Ride Mega Coaster 2:35 1645,9 YesY June 9, 2016 Intamin Amusement Rides VR Coaster Six Flags New England  United States Agawam, Massachusetts
YesY The New Revolution Virtual Reality Coaster Steamin' Demon Sit-Down Coaster 0:37 477 YesY June 20, 2016 Arrow Dynamics VR Coaster Great Escape  United States Queensbury, New York
YesY Olandese Volante Olandese Volante Mine Train 2.30 681 YesY June 25, 2016 Vekoma Moviemex3D Rainbow Magic Land  Italy Valmontone (Rome) First Italian VR Coaster
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Demon Sit-Down Coaster 1:45 649 YesY August 10, 2016 Arrow Dynamics VR Coaster Six Flags Great America  United States Gurnee, Illinois
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Skull Mountain Sit-Down Coaster 1:24 420 YesY September 20, 2016 Intamin Amusement Rides VR Coaster Six Flags Great Adventure  United States Jackson, New Jersey
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Kong Suspended Looping Coaster 1:36 689 YesY September 22, 2016 Vekoma VR Coaster Six Flags Discovery Kingdom  United States Vallejo, California
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Shock Wave Sit-Down Coaster 2:00 1097,3 YesY Schwarzkopf VR Coaster Six Flags Over Texas  United States Arlington, Texas
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Ninja Sit-Down Coaster 2:00 740,7 YesY Vekoma VR Coaster Six Flags St. Louis  United States Eureka, Missouri
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Dare Devil Dive Sit-Down Coaster 639,8 YesY Gerstlauer Amusement Rides VR Coaster Six Flags Over Georgia  United States Austell, Georgia
YesY Rage of the Gargoyles: Virtual Reality Coaster Goliath Hyper Coaster 1231 YesY Bolliger & Mabillard VR Coaster La Ronde  Canada Montréal, Québec
YesY Freedom Flyer 2.0 Freedom Flyer[30] Suspended Family Coaster 1:00 395 YesY November 16, 2016 Vekoma VR Coaster Fun Spot America  United States Orlando, Florida
YesY Santa's Wild Sleigh Ride The New Revolution Sit-Down Coaster 2:12 1053,7 YesY November 19, 2016 Schwarzkopf VR Coaster Six Flags Magic Mountain  United States Valencia, California Christmas Special
No SHAMAN Magic Mountain (roller coaster) Sit-Down Coaster 2:00 700 YesY 2017 Vekoma Figment Productions Gardaland  Italy Castelnuovo del Garda, Veneto
YesY Arkham Asylum Arkham Asylum – Shock Therapy Suspended Looping Coaster 1:42 765 YesY 2016-17 Vekoma VR Coaster Warner Bros. Movie World  Australia Gold Coast, Queensland
YesY Evangelion XR Ride Space Fantasy - The Ride Sit-Down Coaster 585 YesY January 13, 2017 Mack Rides VR Coaster Universal Studios Japan  Japan Osaka, Osaka This ride is a part of the "Universal Cool Japan 2017" event, concluded on June 25, 2017.
YesY Dæmonen Virtual Reality Dæmonen Floorless Coaster 1:46 564 YesY April 6, 2017 Bolliger & Mabillard VR Coaster Tivoli Gardens  Denmark Copenhagen
YesY Tren de la Mina VR Coaster Tren de la Mina Sit-Down Coaster 1:46 564 YesY May 20, 2017 Gerstlauer Amusement Rides GmbH VR Coaster Parque de Atracciones de Madrid  Spain Madrid
YesY Astral Vision WindstarZ Family Rides 2:01 480 YesY March, 2017 Zamperla Astral Vision Coney Island  United States New York
YesY Master Thai VR Coaster Master Thai Sit-Down Coaster 2:10 YesY May 20, 2017 Preston & Barbieri VR Coaster Mirabilandia  Italy Savio
YesY Titan VR Coaster Titan Sit-Down Coaster 1:20 823 YesY January 14, 2017 Sansei Technologies VR Coaster Selva Mágica  Mexico Guadalajara
YesY Galactic Attack: Mind Eraser Virtual Reality Coaster Mind Eraser Suspended Looping Coaster 1:36 689 YesY May 20, 2017 Vekoma VR Coaster Six Flags New England  United States Agawam
YesY Galactic Attack: Mind Eraser Virtual Reality Coaster Mind Eraser Suspended Looping Coaster 1:36 689 YesY May 20, 2017 Vekoma VR Coaster Six Flags America  United States Upper Marlboro
YesY Joyride Virtual Reality Coaster Joyride Sit-Down Coaster 1:15 280 YesY May 20, 2017 L&T Systems VR Coaster Powerland  Finland Kauhava
YesY French Revolution 2.0 VR French Revolution Sit-Down Coaster 1:45 YesY November 26, 2016 Vekoma VR Coaster Lotte World  South Korea Seoul
YesY Batman: Arkham Asylum VR Coaster Batman: Arkham Asylum Inverted Coaster 1:20 823 YesY May 20, 2017 Bolliger & Mabillard VR Coaster Parque Warner Madrid  Spain Madrid
YesY Steampunk Hunters Western-Expressen Sit-Down Coaster 1:15 335 YesY April 22, 2017[38] Vekoma VR Coaster Tusenfryd  Norway Vinterbro, Akershus
YesY Gletscherblitz Gletscherblitz Powered Coaster YesY March 24, 2018 Mack Rides VR Coaster Steinwasen Park  Germany Oberried, Baden-Württemberg
YesY Dream Catcher VR Dream Catcher Swinging Turns 2:44 600 YesY June 23, 2018 Vekoma VR Coaster Bobbejaanland  Belgium Lichtaart, Antwerp
YesY Den Hemmelige Verden Viktor Vandorm Sit-Down Coaster 750 YesY 2018 Zierer VR Coaster BonBon-Land  Denmark Holme-Olstrup, Sjælland
YesY Virtual Express Tibidabo Express Powered Coaster No 2017 Zamperla VR Coaster Tibidabo  Spain Barcelona Similar film about "Schloss Balthasar" as at Europa-Park
YesY Wilde Maus Wilde Maus XXL Wild Mouse 2:30 585 YesY Mack Rides VR Coaster Traveling  Germany
YesY YoungStar Coaster YoungStar Coaster Youngstar Coaster 2:11 400 YesY Mack Rides Ambient Entertainment, VR Coaster and MackMedia Chimelong Paradise China Guangzhou The same film which has formerly been used at Pegasus at Europa-Park

References[edit]

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  28. ^ http://www.mackmedia.de/en/products/virtual-reality/
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  30. ^ a b "Freedom Flyer - Fun Spot America (Orlando, Florida, USA)". rcdb.com (in German). Retrieved 2016-02-12. 
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  38. ^ "Steampunk Hunters". Retrieved 25 May 2018.