Volkswagen has developed a car that can give track tuition to drivers new to a circuit
In the course of evaluating where to take its next generation of cars, and specifically in terms of autonomous technology, Volkswagen has built an autonomous Golf prototype that has not only learnt the company’s test tracks, it’s also capable of teaching human beings the best lines and speeds around them.
It sounds like the stuff of nightmares, but think about it: no more sweaty, know-it-all track instructors leaning over to grab the wheel just as you’re about to execute a perfect (in your mind at least) apex-kissing move around Donington’s Redgate or Castle Combe’s Quarry Bend.
The secret project came out when VW Group research and development boss Ulrich Eichorn was asked about the effect of heavy investment into self-driving, electrified vehicles on the Group’s more sporting vehicles and brands.
“We have a Golf with a race trainer function already running on tracks,” he replied. “It can learn a track as it laps, perfect its lines and then, when you are ready, you can take over and it will give instructions, such as telling you to brake later or when to steer.”
While Eichorn conceded that such functions would not have universal appeal – “the instructions are not so popular with all drivers” – he insisted that it was “still a great way to learn, as it can display the lines the car took on the screen for you to follow. It can also work with the ESP on or the ESP off, so it can be quite good fun too.”
Still on that subject of fun, Eichorn also noted that autonomous cars can already be equipped with drift modes to produce the sensation of, well, drifting. Having said all that, he reckoned there were no plans to productionise the Golf ‘track teacher’ prototype. That news might be a source of regret for racing school owners out to maximise their profits, but old-school, er, schools will presumably be quite happy to continue with their human resources and the dreaded ‘reach across’ tuition technique.