Finally, a fun use for autonomous cars.
According to the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) website, "engineers are conducting research into how to bring together the instincts of professional drivers and automated driving technology. Their goal is to design a new level of active safety technology and share it broadly so that Toyota and other auto manufacturers can deploy it on the road."
According to us, they've found the perfect way of mixing important work with unadulterated fun by taking a prototype racing Toyota GR Supra and having it drift using autonomous driving technology. Oh, and they made a video of it.
TRI is drawing on a research project by Stanford University's Dynamic Design Laboratory that led to a "proof-of-concept architecture capable of controlling a rear-wheel-drive vehicle in a drift using brakes, steering, and propulsion." Or, as we call it, a perfect way of mixing important work with unadulterated fun by taking a Delorean dubbed MARTY and making it drift using automated driving technology.
It's far from the first drifting Supra, but this one is on the next level. However, there is a serious side to this spectacular display using the race-prepped Supra. "Every day, there are deadly vehicle crashes that result from extreme situations where most drivers would need superhuman skills to avoid a collision," said Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Chief Scientist at Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC).
"Since 2008, our lab has taken inspiration from human race car drivers in designing algorithms that enable automated vehicles to handle the most challenging emergencies," said Professor Chris Gerdes of Stanford University's Dynamic Design Laboratory.
The value is clear as race car drivers need the reflexes to deal with controlling a car at high speed and crazy fast and intuitive decision-making skills, often based on previous experience. However, as much as we appreciate the dedication to safety, this caught our eye at the bottom of the wall of text on the project's website page: "Separately, TRI is also working with Toyota Motor Corporation's Vehicle Dynamics Control Team - based in Japan - to apply the drifting architecture for future Toyota vehicles."
Autonomous drift mode, anyone?