Nissan Picks Racecar Drivers Through Gran Turismo Like The Last Starfighter
The Last Racecar Driver.
In The Last Starfighter, aliens use an arcade game to identify a human with the skills to pilot a spaceship in an interstellar war. On Earth, special simulators used to train people to do things like fly planes and spacecraft are no surprise, but Nissan has taken it a step further by using a racing game people play at home, Gran Turismo, and turning it into a racing driver proving ground.
With GT Academy, Nissan and Sony use online Gran Turismo races to identify strong competitors and invite them to an in-person tryout. For motorsports, this helps alleviate the considerable hurdle of getting talented drivers involved early in life, since racing a car isn’t something you can just go outside and pick up like most sports. Those virtual drivers who prove themselves are then put through an intensive driver training course, where the skills they learned through the game are transitioned to an actual race track in a real car.
This has been going on since 2008, and all 16 GT Academy racers so far still race today, so it’s pretty safe to say the program has been working. Racing driver Darren Turner told Gizmodo, “It’s an opportunity for these guys to find a way in. They learned to drive using PlayStation and learned all the basic techniques—the same things the kid in the go-kart has to learn. They just get there in a different way.”
So forget that Last Starfighter TV reboot—we’re much more interested in the idea of using real, everyday video games to identify people with a particular set of skills.
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