Hachi-roku Chief Engineer Tetsuya Tada credits his sons with giving him the impetus to develop this car. His sons are 24 and 27 now, they do not have a driver’s license and show no interest in cars. “They sit in front of the computer all day,” says Tada. “On Gran Turismo, they are better than their father. But they don`t want to drive.”
Tada tells how he took his boys to the racetracks since age 5 to awaken an interest in cars. It was a disaster, Tada admits:
“Manufacturers like to blame young people for having no interest in cars. Maybe we should blame ourselves. Manufacturers provided boring cars and focused on older people, because this is where the money is. We have abandoned young people.”
Creating new excitement for young people in an affordable car became the driving force behind the hachi-roku. Then, Tada had another idea. “I want to provide an interface between our car and their computer.” When Tada mentioned this to his sons, their eyes lit up.
Toyota, says Tada, developed an interface that makes CAN bus data available to a computer or game machine. Toyota has ditched all driving nannies on the hachi-roku, and pared down the electronics to what is legally mandated. But the car must have a CAN bus, and Tada wants to give the data to the driver. Not like a glorified data logger. Says Tada:
“People could load driving data into Gran Turismo and recreate the drive. We can combine the data with Google streetview. People could drive in the real world against a virtual F1 driver. They can have fun with the data.”
Hachi-roku owners can do whatever they or developers come up with, because Tada wants to publish the specs.
A patent for that interface has been applied for, and as mentioned before, the gizmo “should be ready to buy by August 6th.”
I requested an advance copy and will keep you posted. I better buy Gran Turismo.