If you were given the keys to a new Toyota Supra, decked out with a roll cage, a widebody kit and a paint job worthy of it, and a set of fresh rubber, you’d take it out for some drifting. Well, maybe not this one. Because this one is built specifically by Toyota to innovate its autonymous technology in the field of drifting. Yep, it drifts all by itself.
Take that, Elon!
It’s built by the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) and Stanford University with input from the performance company gReddy and Formula Drift driver Ken Gushi. And while it’s very cool that it can drift all by itself, its actual objective is to teach a car how to save itself in a dangerous situation.
TRI says that when this car learns how to drive just like Gushi, it will “amplify and augment a regular driver’s ability to respond to dangerous and extreme situations, helping keep people safe on the road”.
“When faced with wet or slippery roads, professional drivers may choose to ‘drift’ the car through a turn, but most of us are not professional drivers,” Jonathan Goh of TRI says. “That’s why TRI is programming vehicles that can identify obstacles and autonomously drift around obstacles on a closed track.”
It actually makes perfect sense. Take any driver, maybe a thirty-year-old who has no interest in cars other than to get from A to B. They won’t know how to countersteer against a slide or how to take just enough power off your right foot to bring you back into a straight line. If their car knows how to drift, and therefore how to use these various techniques, it could be able to save you from hurting yourself and others.
I know the world of autonomous cars is scary. I don’t like the idea of not being able to drive myself. But this application is very important and I’m so glad Toyota is working on such a thing. Plus, more drifting is more drifting. Perhaps this can be a whole new competition?