Nissan took the wraps off its newest model early October, the GT-R /C, a one-off sports car steered remotely via a Playstation 4 video game controller.
The full-size R/C car won’t be coming to showrooms any time soon, but you might see it if you live in the U.K., specifically Silverstone, where the Japanese automaker had the car’s pilot, 26-year-old Jann Mardenborough, pull off a few laps, at points clearing 211 km/h (131 mph).
Mardenborough, who controlled the car using an unmodified DualShock 4 controller while he hovered above the racetrack in a helicopter, nabbed a best lap time of 1:17:47 on Silverstone’s National Circuit, averaging 122 km/h (76 mph).
But that almost shouldn’t come as a surprise, seeing as the young race car driver is a graduate of Playstation’s GT Academy, which takes top Gran Turismo racing sim players – who’d be quite familiar with a Playstation controller – and pits them in real-life motorsports series, including Le Mans, in Mardenborough’s case.
The car was modified so its controls were actuated by four robots – one each for steering, transmission, brakes, and throttle – who received Mardenborough’s inputs remotely via six computers mounted in the trunk.
The inputs to the controls were updated 100 times a second, and a Racelogic VBOX Motorsport sensor relayed speed data to a LCD display in the helicopter cockpit. The remote control’s effective range was about one kilometer, but two other operators had remote access to the ABS and an engine kill switch in case something went wrong.
Nissan’s GT-R /C stunt was meant to celebrate the brand’s 20th year working with Playstation’s Gran Turismo video game series, but the car will also take a tour of primary and secondary schools around the U.K. to promote education in the science and tech fields.