Virtual rally simulator gets $20k grant


It’s driving but not as you know it.
That’s how you might describe CoDrivr – a virtual reality driving simulator devised by Catlins rally driver Rhys Gardner which allows people to take the wheel of Mr Gardner’s Mitsubishi Evo rally car and drive fast over twisty roads without going anywhere.
CoDrivr received $20,000 from the final round of GigStart funding which will go towards further development of the concept, Mr Gardner said.
It took an hour of prep work to immobilise the rally car and install the equipment to turn it into a simulator. The driver then put on a virtual reality headset which displays virtual reality 3D road landscapes.
The driver operated the car using the steering wheel and pedals (it is currently only set up to drive with automatic transmission) but the vehicle itself remained stationary.
If the car was wanted for some real rally action, the virtual reality gear could easily be removed, Mr Gardner said.
“We can whip all the computer gear out and it can go straight into a race.”
The simulator has already been trialled in Gore during the recent Silver Fern Rally and at Dunedin’s Vogel Street Party, where it proved popular, Mr Gardner said.
“At Vogel St, the queue was about an hour and we just had a crowd around the car constantly.”
The simulator was “fantastic” for getting people engaged in motorsport, Mr Gardner said. It was also popular with the younger generation.
“Kids just love it. We struggle to get them out of it.”
Mr Gardner said obtaining the GigStart funding could be put down to the “excitement of the concept”.
The car, with the virtual reality simulator installed, will be on display at events leading up to the 2017 Otago Rally, which takes place in April.