Porsche's latest project is aimed at letting you enjoy your favourite roads from the comfort of your couch. Called the Virtual Roads project, the goal is to let you map real-world routes and then have them added to your driving game of choice. Yes, this means you can finally drive that twisty bit of local pavement as quickly as you want, without worrying about traffic, crashes, or the police.
"If you ask people what they think is the most beautiful road, everyone has their own, very personal route in mind. The characteristics of the topography are what make a route particularly attractive, regardless of whether it is a unique Alpine pass or a legendary coastal road," said Robert Ader, Porsche's chief marketing officer. "We want to trigger these great memories with a much simpler digitalization process that allows anyone to drive their favourite route virtually."
All it will take is a smartphone app that Porsche is working on with Way Ahead Technologies. Instead of the hundreds of hours of laser-scanning required to turn a real-world racetrack into a digital copy for Forza Motorsport, Gran Turismo, or iRacing, the goal is to use AI and your phone's camera to make the process quicker and easier.
The camera captures your favourite road with all of its twists, turns, imperfections, barriers, and even trees. Way Ahead's software transforms that into a 3D model, taking as little as an hour to map an 8-km road. The software startup says that it is looking at adding sensor data from G-sensors and chassis control modules to the mix for even more realism.
A file comes out that Porsche says is "currently compatible with a number of racing games," calling out simulator Assetto Corsa specifically. While the carmaker obviously wants you to drive that route in digital versions of its own lineup, the route would be available to every car in the game.
So if you're tired of holding back on your preferred piece of pavement, or not able to travel the world in search of the best tarmac, be patient. Porsche is working on bringing Virtual Roads to you.