Remotely controlled Nissan GT-R exceeds 200km/h

Words: Robert Barry   |   Photos Nissan GB
12 Oct 2017

Nissan Great Britain has created the ultimate remote car for gamers called the Nissan GT-R/C which is operated by a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller.

GT Academy winner and NISMO driver Jann Mardenborough took the remote-control super car around Silverstone reaching speeds of more than 209 km/h from the cockpit of a helicopter 

The one-off project car was extensively modified to be driven entirely by a PlayStation 4 DualShock 4 controller to celebrate the release of Gran Turismo Sport, out in Europe and Australasia on October 18th, and marking 20 years of Nissan involvement in the Gran Turismo gaming series.

A few millimetres of button movement or joystick travel are all it takes to unleash the GT-R’s full power. The remote-control vehicle is capable of a top speed of 315 km/h– not restricted for the purpose of the project car – with no one sitting behind the wheel.

Mardenborough put the GT-R/C through its paces around the Silverstone national circuit, by controlling it from the cockpit of a Robinson R44 Raven II helicopter, which was specially permitted to operate at a low altitude.

In 2011 he was the winner of the GT Academy, Nissan’s driver discovery and development programme. Therefore, Mardenborough was approached to be the first driver of the GT-R /C because of his talent in both Gran Turismo gaming and real-life motorsport.

Since 2008, Nissan has also made motorsport more accessible to everyone with GT Academy turning amateur gamers into professional racing drivers.

 

The GT-R /C was engineered in the UK by JLB Design , using a standard-spec 404kW V6-powered 2011 R35. 

On Mardenboroughs’ fastest lap (1:17:47), the GT-R /C averaged 122 km/h and reached a top speed of 211km/h – the ‘driven’ average for the 1.6mile/2.6km loop circuit is around 134km/h.

The GT-R /C is fitted with four robots that operate the steering, transmission, brakes and throttle. Six computers mounted in the boot update the controls at up to 100 times a second. The steering position is measured to one part in 65,000.

The unmodified DualShock 4 connects to a microcomputer which interprets the joystick and button signals and transmits them to the GT-R /C’s on-board systems. The wireless operation has a primary control range of one kilometre.

To help Mardenborough judge the vehicle’s speed through the corners, a Racelogic VBOX Motorsport sensor was installed to relay speed data to a LCD display in the helicopter cockpit.

The GT-R /C is also fitted with two independent safety systems, operating on different radio frequencies, which allow two additional operators to apply full ABS braking and cut the engine in the event of the main operator losing control of the vehicle.

“The GT-R /C presented some unique challenges and a number of engineering firsts for us, says JLB Design director Dr. James Brighton 

“We had to ensure the robotics would operate effectively during fast acceleration/deceleration as well as high cornering g-forces; deliver realistic and reassuring control of the car at all speeds,” he says.

“We also had to maintain a robust connection between the car and the DualShock 4 over variable distances and with minimal latency in robot response times,” says Brighton.

“I’m delighted to say all these challenges were overcome but it’s testament to Jann’s unique skillset that he was able to master the vehicle’s operation in a very short period of time whilst delivering some truly impressive lap times,” he says.

“This was truly epic stuff, the GT-R /C has brought my two worlds together – the virtual of gaming and the reality of motorsport – in a way I never thought possible,” says Mardenborough.

“The response from the car when using the controller was far more engaging than I thought it would be. JLB Design has done an incredible job at making everything respond really well,” he says.

“Steering, acceleration and braking were all intelligently configured, allowing for controlled application so I could really get a feel through the corners and hold it steady down the fast straights,” says Mardenborough.

“Driving a full-size, remote-control GT-R to 209 km/h at Silverstone whilst chasing it down in a helicopter was an unforgettable experience,” he says.

In 2018, the Nissan GT-R /C will be used in a tour of primary and secondary schools in the UK to promote future careers in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) subjects.

 

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