While life-sized simulators are generally associated with the training of plane pilots, the machines have been successfully ported to the automotive industry as well.
And we’re not talking here about the usual set of feedback-enabled wheel/pedal combo that makes driving games a bit more immersing and enjoyable. We’re discussing a very serious – 1,700-horsepower – Mercedes-Benz simulator. It was first used back in 2010, it cost the company $34 million and is focused on the same aspects as the plane simulators – it can mirror dangerous conditions that would be hard to replicate in real-life without serious safety hazards.
The UFO-like machine is a six-legged hexapod that sits on a 12-meter rail, exceeds 300 tons and can accommodate a real Mercedes car. After the said car is engulfed, a 360-degree projection screen can then go on and throw at the driver every possible extreme driving scenario. The driver can accelerate, steer and brake just like on the road, as the screen projections change to mimic different types of road conditions, including surrounding traffic or pedestrians.
The simulator, mainly for vehicle development use, allow the engineers to test different scenarios on a new car long before any actual prototypes are produced, making them safer as they move to speed up the life-cycle process of a new model introduction.