By Aaron Waldron
There’s no doubt that the first-person-view aspect of drone racing adds to its excitement, as the camera feed in each pilot’s goggles gives the sensation of flying through the air at over 100 mph, weaving through gates and racing toward the finish line. The FPV cameras allow drones to soar past trees, through buildings, and around sports stadiums, far outside of the line of sight. It’s equal parts disorienting and exciting.
RC cars have long been able to support the concept of FPV racing, but a full-on cockpit like Kyosho’s new 4D Ride-On Experience would really maximize the impact on-board cameras could have on RC car racing. The 4D Ride-On Experience combines an on-board camera and motion sensors with a video game-style cockpit to recreate the G-forces of driving an RC vehicle. If this is truly a miniature motor sport, what would be better than the feeling of sitting inside the car?
Here’s the official Kyosho press video that I posted on the LiveRC news feed on Monday:
Not only would on-board simulators up the scale-realism and excitement of racing, but they’d unlock new opportunities for track designs — tunnels, different rooms, cross-overs, and many of the other track aspects of drone racing that cars can’t currently enjoy. The tracks could be made a lot bigger, which means the cars could also go faster; I’m picturing a 1/8-scale GT-based car on a track the size of a football field, far beyond the 360-400 meter racing line of typical 1/8-scale nitro on-road tracks. However, the simulators would make small tracks feel larger, too.
Logistically, this would certainly provide some headaches: rather than each driver having a $300-600 radio of their own, the track would likely be in charge of installing and maintaining a fleet of simulators — which would certainly take up more space than the typical drivers’ platform. But perhaps the drivers could simply save their settings onto a memory card that plugged in to the simulator (or save them to a profile that downloaded automatically from the cloud). You could absolutely use drone-style goggles instead of display screen, and that would cut down some of the initial investment.
Sure, you may never be able to lap a track as fast in one of these simulators as you could standing on a shipping container with a standard radio, but think of how much more exciting it would be! You’d feel when the rear end of the car kicked out when you stepped on the accelerator pedal, rather than just seeing the car squirm when you pulled a trigger too tightly. The effects that setup changes have on your vehicle would almost surely be more noticeable if you had a much closer perspective on its behavior You’d get a similar drone-like sensation of flying when you hit a 25-foot triple. And the crashes would be epic!
Would on-board simulator racing ever replace standard radio-control? Of course not. Should we make it happen? Absolutely! The RC racing scene hasn’t had a shot of new blood since the short course craze, and this would definitely shake up the status quo. Sadly, the start-up cost and logistics of getting a beta test program off the ground are probably enough to prevent anyone from ever actually trying it. But that doesn’t mean an RC fanatic can’t dream!