Virtually Real Motor Racing

Not to be outdone by virtual engineering, the latest racing car video games, or more correctly simulators, incorporate exceptionally realistic real-time virtual physics (kinematics and aerodynamics), 3D graphics and even 3D sound. Online racing simulators pit virtual drivers from around the globe in hot pursuit of virtual titles. With all these advances you'd think there's little more that can be done to improve virtual racing - but you'd be wrong. What if you could virtually drive, on a game console, in a Formula 1 (F1) race mimicking the actual live action in the race?

EA Sports F1 2001 ScreenshotF1 Video Game Screenshot (2001)

iOpener Media have attracted funding in part from The European Space Agency (ESA) to develop a system to track real-time data from racing events and relay it to game consoles. So in essence a virtual driver can compete against computer-controlled AI drivers mimicking the real drivers in a race. Imagine pitting yourself against the latest F1 drivers in a real race - well this is the next best thing.

The proposed system to track the live event participants (it doesn't have to be cars, it could be cyclists, rowers, etc) uses Differential GPS (DGPS) - an enhanced version of GPS, accurate to 2m. The location accuracy can further be improved to within 0.3m by using an Inertial Measurement Unit (IMU). F1, and many other forms of motor sports, use real-time telemetry including IMUs to provide feedback on car performance for engineers during a race. This telemetry data, if fed into the live data for iOpener Media's system, could provide extra realism, such as engine speed, fuel consumption and wheel spin.

Maybe iOpener Media's system will open a new (affordable) avenue of race driver development; once you can beat the real race car drivers in the virtual world it's time to give the real thing a try - just like The Last Star Fighter.

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