A few selected journalists were invited at Laguna Seca to “try on” the BMW 330i Track Trainer. You might remember the Track Trainer from an episode of Top Gear, where Jeremy Clarkson sat in the autonomous 330i.
Coming directly from Nürburgring, the BMW 330i Track Trainer made its North American appearance. The autonomous car is built on the standard production of the 330i model, but the software underlying the vehicle is quite special. Utilizing a combination of built-in GPS, a signal booster and accompanying repeater (increasing bandwidth and accuracy down to the centimeter), a custom map of the track and a trained driver to show it the optimum racing line, the Track Trainer learns the course and can show budding racers how to do it right.
The software is made out of complex algorithm to determine theoretical grip, while wheel speed and spin sensors send data to the computers to interpret the exact amount of suspension load, power delivery and braking force necessary to keep it out of the weeds. A driver feedback display mounted on the center console shows drivers how close the car is to the optimal line while in control.
It its lifetime, the 330i Track Trainer has already accumulated 12,000 miles of testing.
According to Autoblog, average lap times at Laguna Seca with the system set between 85- and 95-percent ran in the low two-minute range. The car was also running at Hockenheim and the notorious Nordschleife. It is limited only to tracks that have been programmed into it.
In development since 2006, BMW began to show off this tech to the board and the press, finally bringing it to the Nordschleife in 2009 packing a new camera system that measured the exact width of the track and inputted the data into a reconfigured autonomous driving program.
Autoblog brings us a video test review.