When a video game and real-life merge. Can we play, too?
Nissan does something literally no other automaker does with its factory race teams: recruiting new drivers based on their skills with the Gran Turismo video game. The chosen few are promptly sent to Nissan’s GT Academy driving program. Despite the switch from virtual reality to real-life, Nissan still likes to dabble with video games from time to time, and this extensively modified GT-R is proof. The GT-R /C can be driven by a DualShock4 controller. No joke.
This was really done, and GT Academy winner and NISMO driver Jann Mardenborough was given the rare privilege of "driving" the GT-R /C around the Silverstone circuit – from a helicopter overhead.
The remote control allows one to get the GT-R /C to a top speed of 196 mph, but Mardenborough reached a top speed of 131 mph around the twisty and challenging circuit. And he did all of this from the cockpit of a helicopter, which had to be given special permission to operate at a low altitude. Despite the unusual circumstances, Mardenborough’s fastest lap time was an impressive 1:17.47, averaging 76 mph. Just to compare, the real-life “driven” average speed at Silverstone is 83 mph. How did Nissan pull this off, technically speaking? The car itself is fitted with four robots that operate the steering, transmission, brakes and throttle.
A total of six computers, located in the trunk, update the controls at speeds up to 100 times a second. The DualShock4 hand controller is unmodified, but it does connect to a micro-computer which interprets the joystick and button signals. It then transmits them to the car’s on-board systems. So, why was this whole thing done in the first place? Two reasons. One, to celebrate the release of Gran Turismo Sport gaming series, and to mark 20 years of Nissan’s involvement with Gran Turismo.