Toyota Supra drifts independently in the name of the flag

Researchers at Toyota Research Institute have combined the useful and the fun by developing a GR Supra that is specially equipped for drifting … but completely autonomous. Thanks to the integrated electronics, this unique version of the Japanese coupe can drift perfectly without driver intervention. It’s an impressive feat certainly, but according to TRI also very useful in the context of developing autonomous driving systems in extreme conditions.

>> Also read our tests of the Toyota GR Supra

Ice and dribbling maneuvers

It is imperative that Toyota be able to offer an autonomous drive system – or stability control – that is able to respond adequately in extreme situations. Two typical examples are driving over a rhyming spot or avoiding a sudden obstacle. The goal is for the autonomous steering system to be able to detect the situation and control the vehicle to get it back on track and in a stable position, or to avoid an obstacle without losing control. The basic idea is to offer an independent drive system that allows you to glide without losing control. This is where the “independent” drift comes into play.

Drift without hands

For development tests, Toyota engineers equipped the GR Supra with computerized steering, accelerator pedal, gearbox and single wheel brakes. The system can perform orbit calculations and thus corrections up to 20 times per second.

Developed in collaboration with professional pilots, including drift legend Ken Joshi, the system allows this particular GR Supra to drift like a pro. Toyota’s goal is to develop a system that appeals to enthusiasts of sports driving and drifting, and goes beyond driverless autonomous driving. A type of guardian angel called a Guardian that lets you drive to your liking, but takes over in dangerous situations to help you or assist you if you fall asleep at the wheel, for example.

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Support instead of limitation

Specifically, Toyota sees this assistance as an enhancement to the driver’s skills, somewhat like the driving-focused electronic exoskeleton. At least that’s the goal of TRI, explains Avinash Balachandran, Head of the Human-Centered Driving Research Team at TRI: “Through this project, we are expanding the area in which a vehicle is drivable, with the goal of allowing regular drivers to use the instinctive reactions of a professional racing car driver. So he can handle the toughest emergencies and ensure the safety of people on the road.

Toyota’s approach is a step in the right direction and is in line with the work of some sports car specialists, including Ferrari, who are constantly working to improve the interaction between electronics, chassis and driver to deliver an increasingly advanced and safer driving experience. To be creative behind the wheel. The only difference is that Toyota wants to allow its system to dominate in the event of danger and not limit it to a fun-producing artificial assistant.

Megan Vasquez

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