Code to nowhere

8 min read

Essential in racing, driver-in-loop simulators have entered the complex world of road cars. Richard Lane learns how you can develop anything without leaving the building

Demo Delta S3 sim is big – but smaller than a proving ground

We offer the imperfect world but perfect knowledge of it,” says Kia Cammaerts, a man possibly more informed than any other person anywhere in the world when it comes to the bottomless difficulties that car makers face these days.

It’s the highly complex simulators built by the firm Cammaerts founded that many of them have come to rely on. BMW, Ford and Honda already use Ansible Motion’s engineering-grade dynamic driver-in-loop (DIL) sims to develop new cars – there are 34 in the field – and during our visit to the Hethel headquarters (which is just across the road from Lotus), another squash court-sized sim is in build, destined for China.

Even in gestation, it’s quite something to behold. With 32 PCs all operating concurrently in a real-time network, it’s a version of the latest Delta S3 model. It can be equipped with an ultra-realistic cabin weighing up to 500kg, which it can whisk from one corner of a four-metre-square bearing-rail grid to the other in just 0.8sec. The cabin can be tilted 45deg and rotated through 180deg for stomach-turning realism during a spin (or, if the firm in question has a World Rally Championship programme, for charging through a digitally rendered Ouninpohja). Four metres also happens to be an ideal width for lane changes on the autobahn.

The detail of these cabins alone can be astonishing. In a room adjacent to the China-bound unit is a mocked-up GT3 cockpit, soon to be shipped across the Atlantic to an existing customer – a major manufacturer chasing glory in the World Endurance Championship. In order to perfectly replicate the sightlines, the glasshouse and dashboard are so accurately rendered that identifying the car is easy, despite the lack of branding. The seat, wheel and pedal box are of course to the actual race car’s spec, and for high-fidelity feel the clutch pedal is rigged up to the AP Racing clutch the real car uses. Same for the brakes. To give vibration as well as resistance, a voice coil feeds vibration into the pedal assembly and there are more actuators under each corner of the roll-cage. The aim is to heighten immersion by replicating the frequencies put through the chassis by the car’s engine and the track surface.

Let’s zoom out for a second. It’s the ability to put anyone – from test engineers and hot-shoe

This article is from...

Related Articles

Related Articles