Have you ever wanted to hop into your favorite racing simulation and drive around a road you know and love in real-life? RaceDepartment spoke with Porsche and Way Ahead Technologies and we may well be one step closer to just that.
The project is called Virtual Roads, where users can record a journey on their smart phone and transfer this information into a video game. If you’re looking for laser scanned accuracy, then this isn’t it, but the app utilizes the smartphone camera with its sensors to record a road and recreate this information in a virtual world. Laserscanning a track is a timely and expensive exercise, Porsche hopes this technology will make this process a lot cheaper and less time consuming – in short: manageable for anyone, anywhere and more community driven. Not only official race tracks can be driven but what the community is creating and covering.
The application is currently compatible with a number of racing games including 'Assetto Corsa‘. Users will be able to record a scenic route, or a favorite countryside road, and be able to return to this whenever they want. This will be done by simply mounting their smartphone behind the windscreen and recording a route using an app.
The software utilizes technology such as artificial intelligence to record a road and the surrounding area, such as trees and roadside furniture. The software recreates this information in a digital form. The AI can even recognise people and cars and fade these out of the recreation, it can also determine the road surface so it knows if you’re driving on tarmac or even ice.
The project has been around one year in the making so far, with an initial vision of transferring a real road into a gaming experience. Whilst the final product may still be a gaming experience, this type of technology opens up a vast array of potential uses.
"After several years of development work, our software is now so advanced that it can digitalise routes for virtual roads of up to eight kilometers long in less than an hour, depending on how complex the route is", says Roger Rueegg from Way Ahead Technologies. "We're also looking at other options and functions at the moment." For example, Rueegg thinks that data from the sensors that measure lateral acceleration and chassis control could also be recorded and used in the future.*
At present several solutions could be on the cards which include recreating routes into your favorite sim, a mobile gaming app, and a host of potential utilities.
It’s even potentially possible for someone to record a route and extract this data to be used within a track builder to make fully fledged roads with 3D buildings, trees, billboards, etc.
Looking ahead, you can expect a market ready application in around 2 years.
Porsche and Way Ahead Technologies would like to hear from the RaceDepartment community.
- Can you think of any uses for the Virtual Roads project and would you be keen to get your hands on this technology?
- Which road would you like to digitalize?
- Do you want to race your friends on your favorite tracks?
- What do you like the most about this technology? How would you use it?