On Tuesday, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that it was wrapping up its investigation into Tesla’s "Passenger Play" feature. The service originally offered occupants the ability to play a slew of video games while vehicles were in motion. But this was changed after the automaker felt pressure from federal regulators.
The Mercedes-Benz-sponsored “In-Car Gaming Challenge” isn’t exactly breaking news. Daimler made the announcement almost a week ago, with the story only gaining traction online thanks to a slower-than-usual news cycle. Frankly, we originally planned to ignore the topic entirely — until we realized no one discussed the broader implications.
That probably sounds more ominous than it should. Essentially, Mercedes is trying to diversify its business by getting into video games. But the potential ramifications stemming from that change could be felt across the automotive industry in the coming years. Daimler isn’t just seeking game-related business ventures — it’s trying to figure out how to make life inside an autonomous vehicle more appetizing.
Three decades ago, video games could only offer the vaguest approximation of driving. Things are very different today. While a lot of modern software still forgoes realism for the sake a fun, simulators have grown in popularity and are becoming incredibly realistic. Real tracks are built to scale, weather effects have meaning, and automobiles behave in a faithful manner. Gamers can even swap their gamepads for honest-to-god cockpits.
Racing simulators have become so effective that Nissan’s PlayStation GT Academy program is now in its eighth year. The event pits thousands of gamers against each other in order to find some they can put behind the wheel of an actual race car. Players then receive additional simulator and on-road training before being allowed to compete in legitimate races.
While we could endlessly debate how well video game skills translate to actual racing, they do provide gamers with an opportunity to learn the tracks and sharpen reaction times. They’ve certainly proven competitive enough for the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile to sanction virtual racing leagues.
Porsche unveiled its most powerful production 911 in history and not exactly where you’d expect. Dodge saved the unveiling of its much-teased Challenger SRT Demon for the New York International Auto Show, so where did Porsche choose to present the new GT2 RS? The Electronic Entertainment Expo — the world’s premiere video game convention.
There are two ways to look at this sacrilege. You can either take offense, accusing the brand of betraying its fervent automotive base, or you can see this as one of the smartest marketing choices it could have made. E3 has a lot of eyes on it and video games are a booming industry. For a long time Porsche cars weren’t even in most video games, thanks to an exclusive deal made with Electronic Arts. When that ended, the brand slipped its cars into Forza Motorsport 6 through downloadable content, and the GT2 RS is on the cover of Forza Motorsport 7.
Not long ago, I considered asking the Best and Brightest if something like this were possible. You see, when I was a younger man, I was a big fan of the game Aerobiz, a tough, take-no-prisoners Super Nintendo simulation of the (Cold War-era) airline business. Since I’ve been immersed in the world of the car business, I’ve often wondered if it were possible to create a game that similarly captured the challenges of running a car company. And now, it seems, that game is already in development by a couple of coder car nerds from Australia. Called “ Automation,” the game is still a ways from completion and its creators are soliciting pre-orders to help fund development (sound like any car startups you can think of?).
Latest Car ReviewsRead more
Latest Product ReviewsRead more
- JamesGarfield What charging network does the Polestar use?
- JamesGarfield Re: Getting away from union plantsAbout a dozen years or so ago, Caterpillar built a huge new engine plant, just down the road here in Seguin TX. Story has it, Caterpillar came to Seguin City council in advance, and told them their plans. Then they asked for no advanced publicity from Seguin, until announcement day. This new plant was gonna be a non-union replacement for a couple of union plants in IL and SC, and Cat didn't want to stir up union problems until the plan was set. They told Seguin, If you about blab this in advance, we'll walk. Well, Seguin kept quiet as instructed, and the plan went through, with all the usual expected tax abatements given.Plant construction began, but the Caterpillar name was conspicuously absent from anywhere on the site. Instead, the plant was described as being a collective of various contractors and suppliers for Caterpillar. Which in fact, it was. Then comes the day, with the big new plant fully operationa!, that Caterpillar comes in and announces, Hey, Yeah it's our plant, and the Caterpillar name boldly goes up on the front. All you contractor folks, welcome aboard, you're now Caterpillar employees. Then, Cat turns and announces they are closing those two union plants immediately, and will be transporting all the heavy manufacturing equipment to Seguin. None of the union workers, just the equipment. And today, the Caterpillar plant sits out there, humming away happily, making engines for the industry and good paying jobs for us. I'd call that a winner.
- Stuki Moi What Subaru taketh away in costs, dealers will no doubt add right back in adjustments.... Fat chance Subaru will offer a sufficient supply of them.
- Dartdude Lorenzo, the reason for low manual transmission here is that most dealers won't stock them. I wanted a 2012 Kia Koup with manual tranny it was available, but no dealers ordered any from the factory hence there was none available. Go on any car manufacture's web site and price and build and build your model and you would be lucky if the model existed and was available.
- The Oracle Good news is that based on the model years many of these have already been junked or experienced terminal engine failure.