Over recent years I’ve had a close association with an Australian Simulator company called MOTUM Simulation who manufacture what’s known as a 6 Degrees of Freedom, true motion simulator that delivers peak and sustained G-forces to provide accurate and intuitive motion cues in a fully-immersive virtual reality environment. This basically means it rocks and rolls to the point that it’s the closest you’ll get to the real sensation of driving without actually being in a car.
Consequently, I’ve been in many conversations about the validity of using simulators as a part of the Learner Driver process in Australia, and I’m blown away by the number of times I’ve had ‘traditionalist’ say that it’s far better that learners utilise real cars only without any form of simulation. This is even though aircraft pilots, Formula 1 drivers and astronauts all use simulators as a part of their training process.
I was interest to hear an interview with an F1 race engineer talking about the use of simulators in their sport and he mentioned that he believes current world champion Max Verstappen, who is a big simulator user, use of the simulator is beneficial to him, not so much around getting to know how the car handles and where the track goes etc, but that he can race around other cars as often as he likes, which is something he can’t normally do except on race day.
It’s well documented that most professional race drivers can be reasonably good simulator drivers on computers, but the big question is do good sim racers make good real life race drivers?
Well, this is the subject of the recently released biographical sports drama Gran Turismo. Based on the racing simulation game series of the same name, it tells the true story of a teenage Gran Turismo player, Jann Mardenborough who with no real-life track racing experience becomes a professional racing car driver.
Here’s the movie trailer:
Having seen the movie, I thought it was good and well worth a watch, however I wondered how much poetic licence the producers may have taken under the guise of a ‘real story’, so you may also like to watch this video.
Hopefully one thing the Gran Turismo movie does do, is for me it proves that there is a place for quality simulation which should be used as a tool in the Learner Driver Programs around the country, it is in so many ways, so much more than just a game.