Clever software allows you to relive cherished driving memories forever.
For some enthusiasts, video games are the only way to ever experience the world's most revered exotic and sports cars. Icons such as the Gran Turismo series allow gamers to drive a wide selection of vehicles in numerous places, from fictional settings to truly special racetracks, such as Tsukuba Circuit and the Nurburgring.
But as Rockstar has shown us with Grand Theft Auto VI, well-produced games take a very long time to develop. Working with Swiss startup Way Ahead Technologies, Porsche may have a solution to this problem. The duo is developing a unique software solution that will allow you to transfer your favorite driving roads into a video game.
Called Virtual Roads, the innovative project will allow drivers to record a route on a smartphone. Positioned behind the windscreen, the smartphone app will record data that can be transferred to the virtual world, courtesy of software that converts the recording into a 3D environment. This, says Porsche, takes less than 1% of the time needed by a traditional digitalization process using lasers.
The software uses, among other things, artificial intelligence to capture a route and the surrounding features, including trees and crash barriers. These details are then virtually reproduced quickly in a digital 3D form and draw on an extensive graphics archive. As a security measure, the system does not transfer other road users into the virtual world.
"If you ask people what they think is the most beautiful road, everyone has their own, very personal route in mind," says Robert Ader, Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) at Porsche, whose department is responsible for the project. He continues: "The characteristics of the topography are what makes a route particularly attractive, regardless of whether it is a unique Alpine pass or a legendary coastal road. We want to trigger these great memories with a much simpler digitalization process that allows anyone to drive their favorite route virtually."
Currently, the system is compatible with numerous racing games including Assetto Corsa. The routes can be experienced on any simulator with compatible equipment or via a smartphone, allowing users to repeatedly enjoy a route from a cherished road trip or a lap around their favorite racetrack, such as the GP Ice Race in Zell am See, Austria. What's more, the clever technology allows even limited-access routes to be enjoyed on the platform, allowing users to pilot a Cayman GT4 RS on a stretch of road previously closed to them.
"After several years of development work, our software is now so advanced that it can digitalize routes for virtual roads of up to eight kilometers (approx. five miles) long in less than an hour, depending on how complex the route is," says Roger Rueegg from Way Ahead Technologies. "We're also looking at other options and functions at the moment." Rueegg believes data from the sensors that measure lateral acceleration and chassis control could also be recorded and implemented in the future.
Most gearheads would obviously prefer the real thing, but the video game can be used to relive treasured driving memories that may not be easy to replicate. What's more, it provides a realistic experience, allowing gamers to tackle demanding roads in their favorite Porsche, better their lap times, and compete with friends without any of the risks. Even the Autobahn is no longer a safe haven for fast driving, so being able to make the most of your favorite road without risking jail is an epic idea. While it's unlikely to provide the same feedback and realism of hardcore simulators such as Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, Virtual Roads - whenever it's ready to be launched - will certainly provide endless hours of entertainment or amusement for brief moments when you need to pass the time.