By on July 21, 2015

Force Dynamics Driving Simulator

My company, Force Dynamics, builds full-motion driving simulators. They work by tilting you as the simulated vehicle corners or accelerates, so your brain is tricked into feeling lateral or longitudinal accelerations.

Sometimes people who watch our machines in action say, “This is moving way too much!” So when we started racing a Mazda Miata in the ChumpCar World Series, I decided to conduct an experiment.

We wrote an accelerometer application for Android (the existing ones weren’t useful due to their lack of adjustable damping) and mounted it in the car during my stint. Later, I put the same device on our motion platform, and recorded the same section of Watkins Glen in iRacing.

The result: a comparison of the forces you feel while driving a race car with the forces you feel while driving our motion systems. The phone, like your inner ear, can’t tell the difference between being accelerated or tilted. What you see on the phone in each half of the video is what I was feeling in the real car and in the simulator.

How do the two experiences compare? Practicality limits the simulator’s sustained force to about .6 g. Luckily, your perception is enhanced a bit: in the simulator, the force keeping you in the seat gets lower as you tilt, whereas in real life that force is always 1 g, so you feel more “oomph” for a given load in the simulator than you do in real life. There’s also a psychological component. You’re seeing yourself cornering, and you’re getting other secondary cues, too: in the 401cr, your rate of rotation; vibration; sound and fury.

How do the two differ? Well, the real car is easier: your positional awareness is better, and the onset cues are sharper, so it’s easier to read the car on turn-in. Those differences aside, however, I was almost immediately comfortable making the transition to real driving. Shifting, braking, cornering, and handling the car on the limit all made nearly direct transitions to the track; for example, I was immediately comfortable holding the car at small slip angles through long, fast corners, because it behaved exactly like I expected it to.

What this means is while the simulator can’t fully match the sustained accelerations of a real car, the overall feel can be very good, and a high-quality motion platform can help immensely in the transition from simulator to track.

If you have any questions, feel free to ask in the comments.

Submitted by David Wiernicki. You may know him as B&B member PeriSoft in the comments.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

24 Comments on “TTAC Reader Pits Simulated MX-5 Against the Real Deal [with Video]...”


  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    Now can you build me one of those for my XBOX?

    • 0 avatar
      PeriSoft

      There are two problems with console support: First, controls. We use a custom FFB steering system that doesn’t get along with consoles. Second, data: We need to get position data from the simulated vehicle, which means either getting developers to specifically send it to us, or writing plugins / shared memory readers to grab it unilaterally. Either of those paths are much more difficult with consoles.

      There are other issues too (triple-head becomes tricky at best; there are only about two console sims remotely worth considering as anything but a lark) but those are the main ones.

  • avatar
    RideHeight

    Certainly cheaper than a Vomit Comet.

    Does it have a setting for “hydropneumatic”? I’d like to try that.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    O god. I am going to ask, but I don’t know if I can handle the answer. How much?

    • 0 avatar
      JMII

      Something tells me the Chump Car is cheaper.

      • 0 avatar
        indi500fan

        And the likelihood of meeting hot chicks at the race track is approximately 1400% higher than in your basement.

      • 0 avatar
        Ryoku75

        Chump Car doesn’t require an expensive subscription to I-Rip-U-Off Racing, and its much more fun.

        Most likely cheaper too, a couple grand and you’ll be in a rollcaged NA Miata racing against Bimmers, Neons, Saabs, “creatively” modded Detroit Yachts from yesteryear, Miata-powered Festivas…

        Or for a little more you can have an expensive simulator in your basement, and race against nothing but other Miata. Your choice

        • 0 avatar
          PeriSoft

          “Most likely cheaper too, a couple grand and you’ll be in a rollcaged NA Miata”

          You, sir, are an optimist.

          Plus you’re forgetting the thousand bucks per race to enter.

          ChumpCar may be cheapER than other forms of racing, but unless you want to break on the third lap, it ain’t cheap.

          I’m not saying it’s not worth it; we had a blast. But like I said, by the time you add everything up, a couple of years of Chump will easily run near the cost of a simulator – and an iRacing subscription to boot.

          It’s also worth noting that, shockingly, iRacing has other vehicles than just the MX-5. And running against a crew of Lotus 79s at Bathurst or Monza in real life would make the simulator’s price look like… well… chump change.

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I’d personally spend the extra cash for a Chump, or 24 Hours of Lemons.

            But “sim-seats” certainly have their place, good practice tools for professional racers.

          • 0 avatar
            wmba

            I’d rather have the simulator. That and a wee dram or two of good malt whisky would allow me to experience what DUI is like. Managed to avoid that since 1964 in the real world.

            Yes a simulator could allow all manner of things I’ve wondered about but was too scared to try in a real car due to the likelihood of injury.

            Neat machine.

          • 0 avatar
            brenschluss

            Honest admission: I don’t think I’ve ever used my racing game chair sober.

  • avatar
    Signal11

    Two words: that is super cool.

  • avatar
    PeriSoft

    Hey guys – I’m the guy from the article there (and the Chump in the car). If anyone has any questions, fire away!

    As for the ones already asked… yeah, it’s more expensive than a Chump Car, though I have to say it’s probably not THAT much more than all the costs of a few guys running Chump for a couple of years. As for pricing, think about a 5-series. Not the one with pleather and manual mirrors; the one you’d actually drive.

    So yeah, it’s not super cheap. But like I said, if you take running costs into consideration, it starts to look reasonable again, especially if you’re comparing it to something like running SCCA regionals: Good luck pulling that off (in most any class) for under fifty grand a year. And then there’s the thing I tell people on YouTube: You can crash a simulator more than once!

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      “How do the two differ? Well, the real car is easier: your positional awareness is better, and the onset cues are sharper, so it’s easier to read the car on turn-in. Those differences aside, however, I was almost immediately comfortable making the transition to real driving. Shifting, braking, cornering, and handling the car on the limit all made nearly direct transitions to the track; for example, I was immediately comfortable holding the car at small slip angles through long, fast corners, because it behaved exactly like I expected it to.

      “What this means is while the simulator can’t fully match the sustained accelerations of a real car, the overall feel can be very good, and a high-quality motion platform can help immensely in the transition from simulator to track.”

      Which is exactly what was found to be true about full motion flight simulators. They have all the pitfalls you mention along with the advantages; which is why pilots are allowed to log simulator time as flight time as long as the simulator meets certain standards for realism of controls and feedback.

      “And then there’s the thing I tell people on YouTube: You can crash a simulator more than once!”

      This. Simulators are good for trying out cutting edge maneuvers you would not want to try in a real machine; as well as saving on wear and tear and fuel.

      Given the price of full motion simulators (both aviation and automotive); it would be neat if there were places in large metro areas like DFW where you could rent wheel/stick time in a full motion simulator like this. It would help sell more simulators, and make them more accessible to folks who otherwise would not pony up the cash to buy one.

      EDIT: I see someone does, on weekends – http://www.flyasim.com/

    • 0 avatar
      Ryoku75

      Does the simulator require Iracing or will it work on other, more affordable sim racers?

      I view expensive simulator chairs like I do E-Cigs, it won’t kill you like a Cigar, but its still not the same thing.

      • 0 avatar
        PeriSoft

        “Does the simulator require Iracing or will it work on other, more affordable sim racers?”

        Well, if you can swing the cost of the motion platform, fifty bucks a month for the iRacing service and a steady diet of cars and tracks is unlikely to break your bank. But, yes, you can run our platform with Live For Speed, Assetto Corsa, pCARS, DiRT Rally, RBR, rFactor, rFactor 2, and a few others.

        • 0 avatar
          Ryoku75

          Hm, $50 a month would make a good dent into my gas money.

          How much does the average “Sim-Seat” by your company cost?

          • 0 avatar
            PeriSoft

            As I said above, the range is roughly BMW 5-series territory. Except we don’t lease. :P

          • 0 avatar
            Ryoku75

            I’m surprised you guys don’t lease pre-built units.

            Not complaining though, I prefer the old “buy here, pay here, enjoy” formula.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

  • Hummer: Jeez, I can’t imagine paying that much for 1 vehicle, $1,900 is what one could expect to pay for about 3-4...
  • geozinger: Fnck. I’ve lost lots of cars to the tinworm. I had a 97 Cavalier that I ran up to 265000 miles. The...
  • jh26036: Who is paying $55k for a CTR? Plenty are going before the $35k sticker.
  • JimZ: Since that’s not going to happen, why should I waste any time on your nonsensical what-if?
  • JimZ: Funny, Jim Hackett said basically the same thing yesterday and people were flinging crap left and right.

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Timothy Cain, Canada
  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Mark Baruth, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States