toyota-race-driver-assistance-patent

A real-time helping hand whilst driving on a race track sounds like the sort of thing one would encounter in a video game such as Gran Turismo, but it could be a reality. A patent for “race track driving assistance” has surfaced with Toyota’s name on it, and it appears to use modern, active safety systems not just for safer progress, but also for improving a driver’s competence on the race track.

A combination of GPS, cameras, and pre-programmed track layouts with latitude and longitude data is used to locate exactly where the vehicle is on the circuit at any given moment, with the system able to influence steering, braking and throttle inputs via the vehicle’s active safety suite. Like in a video game, it could employ the vehicle’s onboard HUD (heads up display) to give visual cues to start braking for a turn, for example.

The patent outlines a number of ways this system could help racers, both aspiring and seasoned types. On a base level, it could assume control of the vehicle in an emergency, with the system intervening when it detects that a mistake has been made. It ensures that “control of the vehicle is not lost and that the vehicle does not deviate from the race track,” according to the patent.

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The next step up from that would be a mode to assist more experienced drivers. For example, the steering assistance would turn just 5-10 degrees when in fact a 30-90 degree turn is required to negotiate the turn without deviating from the circuit. This essentially prompts the driver in the correct approach without doing everything for him or her.

Driving enthusiasts don’t always take kindly to assistance systems, but what do you think of it in this context? Would you use a system that has the potential to ease the learning curve on a race track?