Tomorrow is here for drivers, engineers

Tomorrow is here for drivers, engineers

By Dave Lewandowski
January 4, 2011

The new Dallara simulator isn’t your or Wii console. It can’t be compared to another unit because, well, there isn’t anything quite like it.

Occupying a 40×40 foot, two-story room at Dallara headquarters in Parma, Italy, it contains more than 5,900 feet of fiber optic cable, has 16 monitors to visualize data, employs a Dolby Surround 5.1 audio system, and checks in at about 650 tons.

Yeah, there’s nothing quite like it, which is the point of the rig developed by Dallara in conjunction with Ferrari. Oh, and the simulator, which was recently inaugurated, will have a twin when the Dallara facility in Speedway, Ind., is up and producing the IndyCar rolling chassis. IZOD IndyCar Series officials, teams and drivers – along with suppliers – will have access to the rig.

The aluminium and carbon fiber simulator allows training of drivers and engineers to potentially improve performance by covering multiple disciplines and a variety of applications through the dynamic behavior it can replicate. Example: Drivers will be able to test in stressful situations such as traffic, variable grip and car failures, while engineers can evaluate in a clinical environment repeatable setups changes that are difficult to attain during limited track time and expensive test days with varying track and weather conditions.

According to Andrea Toso, head of research and development for Dallara, the key factor for a high-end simulator is the level of immersion that the driver experiences after just a few minutes of visual driving.

“We had to achieve this level of immersion with high accelerations, high frequency of the platform movement and low inertia,” Toso adds.

The “office of the driver” is complete (all the accessories are included, such as helmet, seat belts, pedals, brake bias adjuster, anti-roll bar adjuster, etc).

Toso says the simulator not only provides training for driver and engineers on different tracks, but will be fundamental in allowing engineers to fully evaluate and define a car prior to manufacturing, reducing costs associated with road and track testing. Aerodynamicists and vehicle dynamicists will find the simulator beneficial, while ergonomics, sports medicine and racetrack design are other potential applications.

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