Smoke show: Toyota has built a self-drifting Supra

self-drifting Toyota Supra

This, internet, is the best thing I’ve seen this month…Toyota and Stanford University have developed an autonomous drifting Supra in the name of safety.

Remember the self-drifting DeLorean (MARTY) from a little while back? Google it. Well, this is the next step…Yep, Toyota saw what researchers at Stanford’s Dynamic Design Lab had done with the DeLorean and wanted in.

The idea, Toyota and Stanford said, is to work on developing vehicle automation with the “instinctive reflexes of a professional race car driver and the calculated foresight of a supercomputer to avoid a crash”.

Sure, most car crashes are caused by something more mundane than a long, lurid drift. But, the boffins from Toyota and Stanford are working on ways to assist in more dynamic situations that are beyond the driver’s capabilities. Be that an over correction to avoid something that they can’t react fast enough to catch.

“When faced with wet or slippery roads for instance, professional drivers may choose to ‘drift’ the car through a turn,” Toyota said. Hmm, not sure what the police would say about that…

“Every day, there are deadly vehicle crashes that result from extreme situations where most drivers would need superhuman skills to avoid a collision,” said Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Chief Scientist at Toyota Motor Corporation (TMC).

“The reality is that every driver has vulnerabilities, and to avoid a crash, drivers often need to make maneuvers that are beyond their abilities. Through this project, TRI will learn from some of the most skilled drivers in the world to develop sophisticated control algorithms that amplify human driving abilities and keep people safe.”

What’s all this got to do with a self-drifting Supra? It’s all about development of controlling the vehicle with the brakes while drifting or, rather vehicle systems that can control a car in a drift via the brakes as well as the steering and drive. The Supra is being used as the guinea pig.

And Toyota said its aim is to bring this technology to all of its models. And soon. Until then, we’ll just sit back and enjoy the smoke show.

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Isaac Bober has been writing about cars and 4x4s for more than 20 years, has worked on some of the country's biggest motoring magazines (remember what they were?), and launched Practical Motoring. Now he's back, back again... to share dad jokes and much more.