December 1, 2007 Toyota has unveiled a huge driving simulator designed to recreate realistic driving environments and further the analysis of driving habits and reactions for the development of active safety technology.

The simulator consists of a real car positioned on a mechanical platform inside a 7.1 meter (23.2 foot) dome. A tilt mechanism, vibration apparatus and other devices manipulate the dome as the driver operates the vehicle. The dome itself, which acts as a giant 360-degree video screen, can be moved via precision computer control around an area the equivalent of four tennis courts, simulating a real driving experience that includes a sense of speed, acceleration and riding comfort with sound effects thrown in to complete the virtual driving experience.

Although it would be a great platform for testing the latest version of Gran Turismo, Toyota plans to use the driving simulator to analyze driving characteristics under such conditions as falling asleep at the wheel and drowsiness, glancing from side to side and not checking that the road is safe, fatigue or illness, as well as developing active safety technology for effectively reducing the number of accidents. The long term goal is to make cars that never crash.

The simulator is located at Toyota’s Higashifuji Technical Centre in Japan.

Driving Simulator Specifications:

  • Dome size: Height: 4.5m; diameter: 7.1m
  • Dome mobility: Max. 35m lengthways, 20m sideways
  • Dome tilt: Max. 25 degrees
  • Level of vibration: Max. variation of 50mm up or down
  • Sensation of speed: Max. 0.5G
  • Turntable rotation: Max. 330 degrees in either direction
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