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This robotic Toyota GR Supra can drift by itself

All in the name of creating safer autonomous vehicles

TRI has programmed this GR Supra to burn rubber all by itself. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

While autonomous cars have made plenty of strides in the past decade, the technology still isn’t perfect. Even the slowest of self-driving vehicles can still be involved in accidents. But in motorsports, the only way to find the limit is to go beyond it. And that is what Toyota is doing with a tech demonstrator based on the GR Supra.

Toyota Research Institute is embarking on a project that will hopefully change the way autonomous cars are engineered. To that end, it has built a test bed that will showcase self-driving technologies that can push vehicles to their performance limits. It uses Nonlinear Model Predictive Control, a type of control algorithm that uses existing software maps to “learn” new ones.

If a self-drifting Supra seems unbelievable, watch the embedded video. PHOTO FROM TOYOTA

Professional drifter Ken Gushi created the maps to make sure that they were based on the input of a skilled driver. The GR Supra was modified with a host of drift-spec GReddy components so that the car can really match anything Gushi throws at it. Manipulating its various controls is a bunch of quick-response actuators.

Even though autonomous vehicles will become commonplace in the future, TRI believes that there will still be a need for drivers to perform extreme maneuvers to avoid accidents. The research project is likely a sign of Toyota’s approach to self-driving technology, which is to not completely remove humans completely out of the equation.

Robo-Supra drifting

Miggi Solidum

Miggi was a member of the editorial staff. Professionally speaking, he was a software engineering dude who happened to like cars a lot. And as an automotive enthusiast, he wanted a platform from which he could share his motoring thoughts with fellow petrolheads.