Steering? There's an app for that

AN automotive engineer and a mobile phone game developer have created a full-sized remote racing car.
AN automotive engineer and a mobile phone game developer have created a full-sized remote racing car.

AN automotive engineer and a mobile phone game developer have created a full-sized remote racing car.

An English engineer has joined forces with a Swedish mobile phone game developer to create two cars that can be driven remotely by a smartphone.

Engineer Dr James Brighton turned two MG F roadsters into full-size remote-control cars as part of a promotion for Sony's new Xperia phone.

The engineer teamed up with Swedish mobile phone game developer Pixelbite, which created the popular game, Reckless Racing 2.
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Dr Brighton developed the cars so they could be driven using the game's smartphone controls.

"The primary challenge is trying to create an interface that someone can actually drive a car with in a similar manner to the way they drive the game," he said.

As part of the exercise, Martin Noriander, co-founder of Pixelbite, challenged English technology journalist Hunter Skipworth to a race at Bentwaters, an abandoned RAF air base about 130km northeast of London.

Despite a couple of hairy moments, including a near rollover when one car hit a dirt bank, both cars made it through the dirt test track unscathed, even sliding the car sideways on some hairpin bends.

For the record, Skipworth won the race by a narrow margin.

"I never thought I would end up using a phone to control a car," Skipworth said.

While the exercise was mainly for promotional purposes, the age of the driverless car is approaching, with Google and Volkswagen already well advanced in its plans to develop cars that can navigate streets on their own.

The US state of Nevada recently passed a law to legalise self-driving cars.

The cars use artificial intelligence, sensors and GPS systems to navigate without a driver, in a similar way to an autopilot on a commercial aircraft.

Volvo has already developed a car that can detect a pedestrian and make an emergency stop without intervention from the driver. It is also working on "platooning" technology, whereby cars follow each other at a radar-controlled distance on a freeway.

A number of carmakers already have radar-controlled cruise control, which uses sensors to maintain a safe distance to the car in front.

Topics:  apps mg mobile phone apps smart phones technology

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