Toyota's Huge New Driving Simulator

Rumors that Toyota engineers have plugged in the latest version of Gran Turismo are unconfirmed. But what is fact is that the Japanese firm has unveiled a massive new driving simulator.

To the external viewer it looks like a white dome in an area the size of four tennis courts. But inside the 7.1-meter diameter pod is a platform with a real car on it. The concave interior of the dome acts as a giant 360-degree video screen.

As the driver operates the vehicle, a tilt mechanism, vibration apparatus, and other devices manipulate the whole structure. It can be moved around the vast floor, and the result is a true simulation of the actual sensation of driving, including a feeling of speed, acceleration through turns, and ride comfort. Sound effects make the experience even more real.

The device is located at Toyota's Higashifuji Technical Centre in Japan, and is designed to provide one of the world's most realistic simulated driving environments.

The new system will be used to analyze driving characteristics, and to develop advanced technology to prevent accidents. These will include falling asleep at the wheel, fatigue, illness, or something as simple as looking but not actually seeing an approaching hazard.

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