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Toyota Builds New Driving Simulator

Toyota has built a new driving simulator at their Higashifuji Technical Center in Japan, and it looks straight out of science fiction.

Inside the 15-foot-high, 23-foot-wide sphere is a Lexus IS attached to an elaborate rail system and surrounded by a 360-degree video screen that displays a virtual driving environment:

The internal surrounding sides of the dome show 360 degree computer graphic imagery of roads and landscape, complete with signs, pedestrians, street-side stores and faraway Mount Fuji — all synchronized to move with the simulated driving.

In a demonstration for reporters Monday at a Toyota technology center, the dome moved in a 35-meter (115 foot) long building, skidding on a rail horizontally and vertically.

When a driver pushed on the brakes, the dome tilted forward to give the effect of stopping. When the driver turned the steering wheel to the right, the dome cocked to the right to give the feeling of turning.

The simulator will be used primarily to test out advanced safety features, as well as examine how intoxication and drowsiness affects drivers.

It’s a substantial looking thing, and I certainly wouldn’t turn down a chance to try it out.

[Source: International Herald Tribune]