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Happening right now out in Cologne, Germany is Gamescom, the world’s largest trade fair and event for video games and entertainment. And with all the passionate automotive enthusiasts in Germany, it’s no surprise that Sony wanted to make a statement in their booth by teaming up with Audi to show off a whole new way to play Gran Turismo 5. Custom built by quattro GmbH in Neckarsulm, the PlayStation Racing Simulator that’s currently setup at the booth is a full-on carbon-black Audi R8 LMS imitation race car.
The cockpit features the same bucket seat that one would find in the GT3 car, while they’ve added an additional one for a passenger to spectate. The roll cage has been simplified to make it easier to get in and out of the simulator, but players get to hold onto an authentic race steering wheel that’s been hooked up to the PlayStation 3 and enjoys full Dolby Surround Sound as they power their way through twists and turns.
What puts it altogether though are the pneumatic cylinders located where the race car’s suspension would be. This allows the virtual racer to really feel the physics of driving while in the cockpit of the simulator. That means they feel every bit of the centrifugal forces while cornering, braking and accelerating. According to reports, it took Audi and Sony six weeks to assemble the entire unit, far longer than it takes to build a real car.
Carmakers put their vehicles through the most extreme environments available – Death Valley, the Arctic Circle, and the Nurburgring. But let’s face it – most cars will never be used in these types of driving conditions – wouldn’t it be more productive to see how they fare in the real world? And that’s just what Mercedes-Benz did… in a way. They’ve built a new simulator, and it’s so much more than a screen and a wheel.
The simulator, which is part of a 160 million euro testing and development facility, uses a six-legged platform that supports the test cell to simulate full three-dimensional movement. To mimic extreme transverse movements, the simulator moves from side to side using a 39-foot rail system. Plus, the driver is engaged by a giant 360-degree panoramic screen.
The computers used with the simulator sample driver and car reactions at 1,000 times per second, and this data will be used not only to help make safer cars, but also used to write better software and innovate new solutions.
Another mark in the pro column for the simulator is that it offers a risk-free environment, plus its able to run tests they couldn’t do on real roads. It also allows Mercedes to safely conduct tests with actual drivers who push a car past its limits, all while still gathering meaningful data.
Lexus‘ giant egg-like monolith isn’t some weird monument to quality control or reduced NVH. The big white orb is actually a very advanced driving simulator, complete with an LS460 that can rotate 360 degrees. Giant screens can simulate a wide variety of conditions so Lexus test drivers can perform tests in a safe environment with no physical consequences.
Check out the jump to view the official video. In the mean time, we’ll take one with an LF-A instead.
Ferrari has announced a virtual racing simulator, titled Ferrari Virtual Academy, that allows any enthusiast to discover what it’s like behind the wheel of a Ferrari F10 single-seat F1 car. And apparently it’s the only PC simulator to do this. Best of all, it’s available for a really cheap price, $19. That gets you access to the Fiorano Circuit. And for another $12.75 you can get access to the Mugello and Nürburgring circuits.
And while we could sit here all day and bore you with the features of the racing simulator, and how 12,000 hours of development time from 15 experts makes it so unique, we wanted to share one cooler aspect of the virtual academy. Every racer that purchases the simulator and indulges themselves in being an aspiring F1 driver are able to record their best lap times online. An international tournament awards the highest-ranked virtual drivers with all sorts of awesome Ferrari prizes weekly. And at the end of it all, the top five ranked drivers win a trip to Maranello, passing through the gates of Fiorano and taking part in an exclusive Ferrari Driver Academy course (with driving instructors of course).
So obviously they have a lot of faith into the technology put into this simulator in making it as realistic as possible. To think that five totally random people that spend a ton of time in the simulator can actually win their way behind the wheel of a Ferrari is pretty impressive. So spare yourself a few of those Big Macs and get yourself behind the wheel of the Ferrari Virtual Academy. Maybe we’ll see you in Maranello.
GALLERY: Ferrari Virtual Academy
On everyone’s bucket list should be what it’s like to get behind the wheel of an F1 race car. But since it’s probably out of most of our reaches, the F1 simulator from BRD Simulation might just be a worthy substitute.
The specs on this thing are mind-boggling. It sports a fiberglass and carbon composite monocoque chassis that simply looks stunning. There’s tons of carbon fiber throughout the simulator, including its suspension components, steering wheel, front and rear wings and Nomex F1 seat.
And clearly the complete turn key system will simulate the G’s of forces during acceleration, braking and turning through its sophisticated construction while drivers enjoy it all through 66-inches of TFT displays and 5.1 surround sound. And if the unit itself isn’t cool enough for you, you can grab some options which includes a smoke machine to emit puffs of smoke when your tires get locked up.
Delivery takes around 12 weeks and a one-day operational trainer can be sent to you if you cover their expenses. What’s the chances that this thing is affordable?
GALLERY: BRD Simulation F1 Simulator
So you’ve spent a few hundred bucks and got yourself a driving simulator with a Sparco racing seat and Fanatec’s steering wheel, shifter and pedal combo. And as great as it is, it just doesn’t simulate the coolest part of racing: the actual movement and shifting of your body with plenty of actual force pushing against your organs. Apparently a few engineers out at the Max Planck Institute of Biological Cybernetics (zzz…) had the same problem and decided to take things to a whole new level – literally.
Imagine taking your driving simulator way up in the air and attaching it to a gigantic robotic arm. Wait, what? Are we dreaming? Are we nuts? Nope, that’s exactly what is staring back at us in this video. These crazy engineers created what they call a CyberMotion Simulator that’s based on a Kuka KR500 6 axis robot. The simulation and control is courtesy of Matlab and Simulink while the seat is a fancy Recaro. Hook up a curved video projector and a force-feedback steering wheel and you have a whole lot of fun.
This lucky tester got to buckle himself in and go behind the wheel of a virtual Ferrari F2007 F1 race car to tackle the famed race track at Monza, Italy. The Kuka KR500 robotic arm is programmed to toss the driver around as he pilots the virtual race car around the track, simulating every bit of force that an F1 driver succumbs to. Jealous yet? You will be after you watch the video, that is if you really think you could stomach it all.