It's all in the name of car safety.

Robio Drift

Researchers at the Toyota Research Institute (TRI) have modified a Supra sports to car perform sick drifts around a racetrack — without a driver behind the wheel.

While it’s extremely fun to watch the sleek vehicle spin its wheels and weave around obstacles, the institute claims it’s all in the name of car safety.

And no, this unfortunately isn’t about creating a chaotic new motorsport — and in the end, they say, it’s not even about autonomous driving itself.

“At TRI, our goal is to use advanced technologies that augment and amplify humans, not replace them,” said Avinash Balachandran, a senior manager at TRI, in a statement.

Supra Reaction Time

Researchers behind the stunt are hoping to glean insights into how professional racecar drivers react in certain situations, like hitting a patch of black ice on the road, and use their learnings to develop future car safety features.

“Through this project, we are expanding the region in which a car is controllable,” Balachandran explained, “with the goal of giving regular drivers the instinctual reflexes of a professional race car driver to be able to handle the most challenging emergencies and keep people safer on the road.”

For instance, “when faced with wet or slippery roads, professional drivers may choose to ‘drift’ the car through a turn, but most of us are not professional drivers,” said Jonathan Goh, TRI research scientist, in the statement.

To make sure it doesn’t crash, the vehicle is crunching a huge amount of data, recalculating its route twenty times a second. It can also apply its brakes to each of its four wheels individually.

It’s an impressive feat of engineering that could one day even save lives.

READ MORE: Toyota Research Institute Pushes Vehicle’s Capabilities To Advance Active Safety [Toyota Research Institute]

More on autonomous cars: Watch Tesla’s Full Self-Driving Mode Steer Toward Oncoming Highway Traffic


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