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Discussion Starter #1
Does A Nissan Skyline drive itself?

Here is a fantasy scenario that might clear things up for some people.

You're driving a Nissan Skyline GT-R on the test track in good weather conditions, with Michael Schumacher as your coach, and Derek Bell (5 times La Mans winner) watching from the sidelines.

You're approaching a tight right-hander, you've judged the entry speed and turn in point perfectly. As you pull on the steering wheel, you can feel the weight of the GT-R forcing you into the apex of the corner. As the front of the car crosses over the apex, you floor the throttle - the GT-R just lurches forward out onto the next part of the circuit. Michael is clearly a happy camper as you, a mere amateur driver, has cleared the corner almost as quickly as he could in his Formula 1 car, and Derek is thumbs up as he can see the GT-R shoot straight into the corner and right out again without any untidiness. Both Michael's F1 and Derek's GT car would have taken this corner in a similar way and in much the same time as you did so you should be feeling very proud right now.

The next part is a sweeping corner that requires you to drift through at high speeds, this will really test your nerves.

The size and weight of the GT-R means that you will need to 4-wheel drift through this corner. You turn into the corner, at first nothing much seems to be happening, in fact the car appears to be going straight on but Michael tells you to keep your foot down. You then start to feel the GT-R drift from under-steer to over-steer, but with a combination of throttle and steering adjustments you're able to keep control of the GT-R sideways through the corner out onto the next part of the circuit. The down forces of Michael's F1 cars wings would mean a different approach and a more conventional looking in, straight round, and out. The ground effects on Derek's car would force him to take a line like the F1's approach but the exit would be more sideways than the F1 car.

So what happened there? Are you a better driver than you thought, or did the Skyline do all the driving for you?

Let's try again; this time in a Ferrari 550 Maranello, a front-engine rear-drive super car and apparently 'the best handling car ever' according to Jeremy Clarkson.

As you turn in on the first corner at the same speed as the GT-R all is well but as you boot it out of the corner things start to go wrong a bit, the car drifts a little further and although you're able to correct it with some opposite lock, things looked a little untidy from Derek's view and Michael is smiling to himself as he would not have made such a mess of it. Being a professional driver he would have been able to cleanly feed the power out of the corner.

So what happened there? Well in the GT-R, when you turned into the corner the HICAS system stabilized the GT-R by turning the rear wheels in enough to keep the car drifting safely into the corner. As you floored the throttle, the ATTESA system sensed the rear left wheel-slip and diverted torque to the front wheels where added grip was needed, allowing you to be a bit more abusive with the throttle control.

In the Ferrari, the excellent chassis dynamics help the car feel good into the apex, however when you floored the throttle this time, the power just span the rear wheels and you where able to pull it together because the chassis was communicating the lost traction early enough for you to react.

Lets try the second corner in the Ferrari. As you turn in, the Ferrari responds much quicker to your throttle inputs; in fact there is almost no under-steer. The car is far more sensitive to your throttle and steering inputs making it harder to control cleanly but each time you think things are going a little out of control, you are able to correct it and come out safely. Michael is looking a bit concerned, sweating a bit as you had to work much harder for control making this a very uncomfortable ride. Derek has just walked away shaking his head at seeing the Ferrari wobble all over the track.

So what's your excuse this time? Again the HICAS and ATTESA helped in combination to control the GT-R by adjusting the rear wheels and the power flow to the front wheels when needed, making it easer for you to work with the car to control the slide. In the Ferrari, the front engine gives you a bit of natural under-steer. The engine is big and naturally aspirated so responds much quicker than the turbo GT-R engine. With the Automatic Traction Control witched off, the Ferrari's chassis is one of the most developed in the world but still requires a lot more driver skill to control on the limit than the assisted GT-R chassis.

So the bottom line here is the HICAS and ATTESA do help you keep things under control and make you look good. However, overstep the limits and it will bite you badly and as that limit approaches, you may have become overly complacent with the ease with which a GT-R will let you drive smoothly at extreme speeds and be caught out, complete unaware.

The Ferrari on the other hand will communicate much better and if you get it right in a Ferrari, it is the most rewarding driving experience you will ever have.

So does a Skyline drive itself?

Paul.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
office move

I’m moving offices and the new one isn’t ready yet so I’m sitting around with out even a phone. Also tomorrow is ground hog day and I’ll have my 19-month-old daughter to help the movers should be fun. :)
 

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self drive functionality..

Excellent point,

perhaps from a race car driver's perspective the car may be too easy to drive (this is backed up by the amount of pro drivers who don't like the car, I.e the Clarkson video) Perhaps it isn't as rewarding as a Ferrari but I have no way to compare this..

There are also pro driver fans of the skyline and if I were to ask one of these if the skyline drove itself I think they would say no.

The car has got gizmo's built into it and it assists very well, but if the car were to drive itself it would not let you get it out of shape no matter how much of a muppet you were.

in your first example the car enters the bend in the correct place at the right speed and with the balance of the car about right, there may be some electical activity providing back up to this and optimising the traction available at that time, but you still put the car into that position and turned in at the right time..

I think that "the car drives itself" statements very much depend on the person who is saying it.
Michael Schumacher has a very different viewpoint to the one I look from.
The problem arises when people like me hear these statements and then think, well if he says that it must be true, so I rush out and buy the car. With no experience of driving formula one cars and all of the predecessing experience that my hero has had I presume to be able to lap the car almost as fast as a race driver would.

This is what causes accidents. So there I am laying in hospital with my mates all saying so how come you crashed it ? you told us all it would sort itself out if you got in a pickle.

Does the car drive itself ?

No. the car will not think and it does not control where it is going it purely reacts (in its own limited way) to whatever silly situation we put it into.

If we believe that we sort of shift blame from ourselves to the car in the event of an accident.

Why is it only the skyline which has this drives itself thing associated with it ??:rolleyes:
What about Evo's which also have active LSD's and yaw control, or the big bmw's with traction control, or corvettes etc..etc..

Have fun everyone.

/Steve
 

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Paul,

What a wonderfully accurate but evocative bit of writing! I was really geting into it! Better than the real thing! (safer)

You ought to think about freelancing with a car mag, specialising in the Skyline, then you can remind people out there about how fantastic it is!

Good stuff mate!

More of it please!

Richard. :)
 

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WRITE -UP

Very nicely put Paul !All you comments are bang on the money !I have experienced all you have written about.
It nearly made be break in a sweat as I usually do on tracks:D !

Can we have some more please sir ?

So the conclusion is that the car does not drive itself but AIDS us to drive it better !
 
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