By on April 21, 2011

As the luckless inventor of interactive video (at least when it comes to car shows), I usually avoid electronic attractions. But then, amongst TTAC’s Best and Brightest is Perisoft, developer of bitchen race simulators, and I absolutely had to test-drive the thing. If you are at the Shanghai Auto Show, it is at the Ford booth, in the left corner. Perisoft can remote into the machine from the U.S. to China, and we discussed cheating enhancing the performance of the simulator. We dropped the idea, because we didn’t want Perisoft to lose future business.

The simulator consists of three screens (made by Dell) and a cab that moves around. There also is a button that says “Motion Stop” – in case you get car sick, I guess. Before they let you drive, you need to sign a release form bigger than what I signed when I drove offshore race boats – a truly murderous undertaking at times.

The simulator would rank big in NHTSA’s database, would it go into the wild. There is no shifter, there is a gas pedal and a brake pedal. However, when you stomp on the brake, the car goes into reverse. A bit counterproductive.

The brains of the machine sit in a huge travel case with three screwdrivers on top of it. Hmmm.

When I started the thing, it crashed. The technicians in attendance perused keyboard and screwdrivers, and the machine rebooted.

Finally, I could race around the course. The guy before me had gone into the weeds and drove through spectators picnicking on the side of the racecourse. Something I tried to avoid.

I finished the course in 126.20 seconds. The technicians in attendance said: “Very good.”

I answered “you say that to all the guys,” collected my belongings and left.

I called Mr. Perisoft and he graciously opined that the time of the guy in front of me must not have been erased (it was) and that he had finished the course in 40 seconds. He extended a standing invitation to Jack Baruth to beat that. I don’t know what Jack would do, but I won’t floor the gas of a machine that goes in reverse when I hit the brake.

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8 Comments on “Shanghai Auto Show: Test-driving Perisoft’s WRC Sim...”


  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    I’m blushing.
     
    A quick clarification on a couple of things – first, there were a bunch of last minute software changes that had to be done for the show, and that’s why things are a bit unstable. We’re not actually running the machine (we sell them rather than renting or doing events), but we’re trying to help get things smoothed out from over here.
     
    The brake-for-reverse bit is standard arcade industry practice. Since the software for trade show use is set up full automatic (half of the people who get in seem to forget which side the brake pedal is on; sometimes I’m not sure how they managed to get to the show), someone who gets himself pinned against a tree is hosed without brake-to-reverse. Unintended acceleration – in the other direction!
     
    Versions of this simulator we sell into different markets behave quite differently – by default they have paddle shift, and we have gate shifters, handbrakes, a clutch, and all that good stuff. For show use, where people have about 60 seconds to get used to and enjoy the ride, the software has a lot of stability control, auto-braking, and so forth; set things up any other way and nobody (except real drivers) will get past the first corner. And the motion cuing we use changes a lot based on the situation.
     
    If you’re interested (and the TTAC people are gracious enough to let it remain) our web site is here, and our YouTube page – on which you can find a video of yours truly piloting the newest version of our hardware – is here.
     
    A big thanks to Bertel and TTAC – I figured maybe we’d merit a snapshot in a random-pictures roundup, not a full article!

    PS: PeriSoft, by the way, is my handle, not my actual name – I don’t (usually) comment here in a professional capacity, and I figure it should stay that way just in case someone who visits TTAC and hates Saabs might be a customer…

  • avatar
    Zackman

    This is just another bit of evidence proving that I signed up on the very best automotive web site! PeriSoft, much credit to you! Well done!

    Now I’m anxious for the next great debate on here!

  • avatar
    Ion

    Not too long ago Subaru had something like this for the STI at the NYC show. When the booth babes who sort of operated the rig asked me why I was driving so bad I told them I was trying to see how the rig would respond if I crashed. When they informed me that they didn’t think the program would allow you to crash and I responded “Well it isn’t a real Rally car sim then, is it?”

  • avatar

    It just so happens that I shot 3D video of Ford’s WRC simulator at the NAIAS in January. So that Bertel, Perisoft and the rest of the B&B can enjoy it, I’ve posted it on Cars In Depth here.
    BTW, the YouTube 3D player also has a 2D mode, so even if you don’t have 3D glasses, you can watch Perisoft and his colleagues’ work in action.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      Whoah, that’s pretty cool! I really should get some ‘real’ red/blue 3D glasses, though. Every time I want to watch some of that stuff, I have to go up to the lab and jury rig stuff out of optical filters, so I end up looking like a cross between a steampunk villain, Mad Eye Moody, and Elton John.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    I know a guy who lived down the street from a California DMV office. His car was hit three times in two years by DMV customers taking their road test, and he actually saw two neighbors’ cars hit. It’s pretty sad that some people can’t travel a block without flunking their test, but these devices could serve DMVs everywhere for filtering purposes, and save a lot of sheet metal. I hope you can configure/market these to motor vehicle departments, and maybe high school driver education classes. When it comes to roadway safety, separating the wheat from the chaff should be the first order of business.

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      I agree, Lorenzo – but you can forget about driver ed in the US. The last driving school I saw was still using VHS tapes from about 1973 to do their ‘training’. The guy on the tape said that it was important to explain carefully to women that seatbelts were important, because women worry that they won’t be able to get free if they’re knocked unconscious in an accident.
       
      The rest was worse. It was pretty horrifying.
       
      Anyway, these guys won’t even spend money on a DVD player. Laying down 60 large for a motion platform when it gives them zero extra income? Ain’t gonna happen.
       
      Legislation is the only way, and unless people in the US are prepared to pay more than a grand to get their licenses as in other places, you can forget about it. This is a country where people who support families of three on $30,000 a year are gung-ho for cutting their own services so they can give the money to people making twenty times as much as they do!
       
      Up-front money for better driver training can end up saving individuals money (and perhaps life and limb) after the first accident avoided. But long-term thinking seems to be considered socialism these days, no matter how pragmatic it is.


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