A few years back, I wrote a feature titled “Why you’ll never drive your car with a joystick.” Today, I learned I spoke too soon (and that Ars’ Creative Director Aurich Lawson is prophetic).
Over in the UK, Nissan and a company called JLB Design have finally done it. Courtesy of Carbuyer, I learned of a tie-in with the soon-to-be-released Gran Turismo Sport, wherein JLB converted a Nissan GT-R to be controlled by a DualShock 4 controller rather than the normal steering wheel and pedals. What’s more, it’s a completely remote-controlled GT-R—renamed the GT-R/C—as demonstrated by Nissan racing driver Jann Mardenborough, who drove the car around the Silverstone racing circuit from the passenger seat of a helicopter circling above.
As you might imagine, the modifications were quite extensive. A RaceLogic VBOX system sent Mardenborough telemetry in the helicopter. Six computers in the trunk translated inputs from the PS4 controller and actuated the GT-R/C’s steering, brakes, throttle, and transmission. And a pair of redundant safety systems were installed, allowing two different operators the ability to apply full brakes and cut the engine in the event of Mardenborough losing control of the GT-R/C.
The choice of Mardenborough as the driver is an obvious one, as he was one of the first winners of the Nissan Playstation GT Academy, a competition that’s been turning gamers into professional racing drivers since 2008. He sounded rather enthused after setting a fastest lap of 1:17.47 around Silverstone’s 1.6-mile (2.6km) National Circuit:
“This was once-in-a-lifetime, truly epic stuff,” Mardenborough said. “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. 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.
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. Driving a full-size, remote-control GT-R to 131mph at Silverstone whilst chasing it down in a helicopter was an unforgettable experience.”
Gran Turismo Sport is due to be released on October 17—barring any unforeseen six-year delays.
Listing image by Nissan