It’s Gran Turismo come to life and we could have Toyota to thank for it

If you’ve ever played a car racing game, say Gran Turismo or Forza Motorsport, you know that there’s a difficulty mode within these games that allow you to enable racing assist, a feature wherein the computer depicts a racing line on the track that helps gamers navigate around the track more easily. These feature often says when a car should start to slow down and brake as it approaches a corner or what racing line it needs to take to post quicker lap times. It’s a great feature for novice gamers, but now it appears that Toyota is bringing that virtual assistance to the real world after filing a patent for a “vehicle race track driving assistance.”

The patent is what you’d expect given its name and from what we’re used to in those video games. In effect, the technology uses cameras and GPS and combines them with pre-programmed layouts of specific race tracks. These layouts include precise measurements of latitude and longitude data, ensuring that the information that’s transmitted to a driver are all accurate, right down to the core measurements.

So how does the driver receive the data? The patent only talks about a “display system” that shows the feature to the driver. No specific were mentioned on what this display system will consist of, but it could come in the form of a head-up display that will show all the pertinent information the driver needs to assess a specific portion of a track and give the necessary recommendations on how to best drive through that portion. The system can even take the “assistance” a step further by taking control – to a certain extent – the steering, braking, or acceleration of the car in the event certain situations call for it. The system has enormous potential if Toyota goes ahead and develops the technology.

There’s been no hints from the Japanese automaker on whether it plans to proceed past the patent application stage, but considering that the company first applied for this patent in May 2015 (the United States Patent and Trademark Office only published it in October 2016), it’s worth wondering if Toyota has already made significant leaps in the development of the technology.

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There are plenty of real-world applications for this

Can you imagine driving around a race track and you see “instructions” on how to best tackle a corner to ensure that you don’t lose out on the lap times? It could even have those green and red colors to indicate if you need to slow down or accelerate. That’s what Toyota’s patent for a vehicle race track driving assistance has the potential to do. I know it sounds too good to be true and a part of me is still skeptical about its adaptation for real-world use, but make no mistake, there’s incredible potential in the technology, especially if it’s going to be used in teaching novice racers.

The fact that the patent is also capable of taking charge when a driver makes a mistake only adds to the intrigue of the system. That situation would definitely need some form of autonomous driving technology so the patent even finds a way to tie into the tech that’s currently being developed by a majority of automakers in the industry, Toyota included.

Here’s another cool twist about this patent: experienced drivers can also use them to fine-tune their driving skills, especially in certain situations where small differences in driving technique could spell the difference between setting a clean lap and getting sidetracked.

I’d like to see Toyota proceed with the development of this technology, if only for the reason that I want to see what it can come up with. The idea is promising, and if executed right, it could be a major breakthrough in improving the skills of race car drivers.

Source: Free Patents Online

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