The Ultimate Escape
Many of us get older but never truly grow up. Whatever our age, we still hanker for the thrill of getting a new toy – something new to play with and show off to our friends. Buying a new car is a good example; no one needs a performance car after all, but it’s sure nice to have.
Imagine, then, if you could bottle up the essence of numerous performance cars from all manner of manufacturers, along with some of the world’s most renowned motor racing circuits and put it in your living room.
We visited Oxfordshire-based RAID Simulators, who is working in partnership with 3XS Systems to create something that is about as close to driving real cars round real tracks as you can get without actually doing it. It has achieved it through the use of an electro mechanically enabled D-Box motion actuated spaceframe, surrounded by high-definition LED displays driven by state-of-the art software. On top of this, a direct drive force feedback steering system and hydraulic pedals add to the realism.
Stepping into the Ariel Atom-esque spaceframe and into the Sparco bucket seat, no games console can prepare you for the experience of a RAID simulator. It’s physical; those 1.5-inch hydraulic actuators shake, vibrate, dip under braking and throw you around. The force feedback steering is capable of delivering shoulder-troubling resistance, and you can ‘feel’ the car underneath you. Pedals are weighted nicely, with brakes akin to a non-servo assisted setup in that they need a firm left foot to get them going. Similarly, off the line the car is very ‘green’ and needs a few laps to get everything up to temperature and working. Seriously impressive stuff!
In a piece about racing simulators in the Financial Times’s “How to spend it” supplement Johnathan Margolis wrote, “I actually think this is the greatest consumer gadget I’ve found in my 20 years of doing this… It’s the best thing you are ever going to have.”
If you can afford the £27,500 + VAT it costs to run this setup, we tend to agree…