It sounds like just the thing for video game buffs, but this one is very much geared towards designing technology to help make driving safer.
It’s the world’s largest and most advanced driving simulator, run by Lexus at its research campus in Higashifuji, Japan. A series of complex, interlocking full motion tracks span the interior of a room the size of a football field. On top of the tracks sits a round domed structure, approximately 4.6m high and 17m in diameter, supported on a full three-axis hexapod system.
Inside the dome, a real Lexus vehicle is mounted to a turntable, allowing drivers to test and experience actual vehicle controls. A high-definition imaging system provides a full 360-degree environment of roads around the vehicle, and drivers can see and hear traffic and the city around them, including receding scenery that’s viewable in the side- and rear-view mirrors.
The pod is able to tip forward, backward and from side-to-side, and coupled with the track system, which moves the pod in all directions, the simulator can create realistic sensations of acceleration, cornering and handling, being able to mimic speeds of up to 300 kph and a turn angle of 330 degrees to boot.
In essence, the simulator allows engineers to conduct tests to learn about driver behavior and reaction times. Besides traditional traffic incidents, tests are done to determine driver response while distracted by technology such as text messaging, navigation systems and car warnings/displays, as well as driving in poor visibility conditions and while drowsy.
Besides making for newer safer designs, these simulations of different driving scenarios allows engineers to analyse driver reactions before an accident and help determine what technologies can be used to assist in helping to prevent future accidents. So, while it’s not a video game, it’s surely no less cool.