Unfulfilled by run-of-the-mill remote control cars, a team of Russians from the province of Tula have built their own full-sized car you can drive using, wait for it, an Apple iPad.
Although the car of choice is a not-particularly-futuristic Opel Vectra — Vauxhall Cavalier to us Brits — the Russians have applied enough elbow grease and techical nous to enable it to be driven wirelessly and, theoretically, from any distance.
Controlling the car is as easy as playing a mobile game. It uses a custom built app, which overlays a virtual steering wheel and two pedal-shaped buttons over a live video feed so the driver (or is that gamer?) can see where he or she is going.
Our Russian is terrible at best so the exact science behind the magic is difficult to ascertain. However it looks as if these geniuses used a motor placed atop the steering wheel mechanism and a set of actuators with bits of wood attached to push the brake and accelerator pedals and the gear shift. The whole lot is linked to a wireless transmitter known as the Virt2Real 1.0, which is hooked up wirelessly to an iPad 3.
Initial testing didn’t go swimmingly. In fact, almost everything was prone to failing which meant one team member had to sit in the car to take care of steering and braking duties until the bugs were ironed out. “We made some conclusions after the initial test,” the team explained on its blog. “We added a more powerful motor to our steering wheel and better actuator to the brake.”
The team, whose YouTube channel is known as Virt2Real, drew its inspiration from the film Tomorrow Never Dies, in which Piers Brosnan was able to control a driverless, machine gun-proof, rocket-equipped, talking BMW 750iL via a mobile phone.
As long as you speak a bit of Russian, have access to Google Translate, and you’re handy with a soldering iron, there’s no reason this Virt2Real setup couldn’t be installed in your own motor. You could soon be driving your kids to school from the comfort of your warm bed ─ if it was legal to drive a car remotely on public roads, that is. And you didn’t care for their personal safety.
Virt2Real plans on carrying out a more extreme test of their remote controlled car (with “hellish action”) when the Russian weather eases a bit. Apparently it’ll involve controlling the car over the Internet. What could possibly go wrong?
Until then, feast your eyes on the images and video of the Opel in action below.
Via: Top Gear