Toyota's New Driving Simulator Looks Like Fairground AttractionS

This is Toyota's latest toy, a 78-ton driving simulator that recreates situations too wild for real life. Consisting of a 23-foot dome perched on top of a 15-foot-high gantry, the simulator is at Toyota's Higashifuji Technical Center in Shizuoka, and will be deployed to improve safety features on Toyota cars.

The movement on the dome is incredible thanks to its tilting and vibration devices: slam on the brakes and the dome moves forward; slew the steering wheel to the left and the dome lurches sideways. There's a range of 115 feet for forward and backward movement, and 65 feet if the dome is moving sideways.

Computer graphics are projected onto the walls of the dome giving you the real-deal view if the car were driving along a road in Japan. You even get to hear proper sound effects if you pop a handbrake turn at 100 mph. Don't try and total the car in an attempt to experience what happens if you crash at high speed, though — when one of the reporters allowed a test-drive mowed down a pedestrian, the screen merely went blank. [Japan Today and Tech.co.uk and International Herald Tribune]