Cupra merges real life and video games

Idea sees drivers race real Cupra while VR goggles transport them elsewhere.

Cupra has launched a new kind of mixed-reality experience that combines the virtual and physical worlds. Dubbed the Exponential Experience, the idea sees participants drive a real car at a real location, but the road ahead is purely virtual reality.

Virtual location, real driving

Unveiled alongside the new Cupra Tavascan at the weekend's Formula E race in Berlin, the new technology can transport drivers to any location using a virtual reality headset. However, while the view from the windows might be virtual, everything the driver feels will be completely real.

That's because while the environment the driver sees will be dictated by the headset, they really will be driving the very same course in a real car - albeit in a controlled (and very spacious) environment. That's done from behind the wheel of Cupra's UrbanRebel concept race car, which produces 435hp.

When Cupra demonstrated the technology in Berlin, Cupra Racing ambassadors Adrien Tambay and Jordi Gene performed a live demonstration of the virtual racing experience, using the wide-open space of Berlin's disused Tempelhof airport and a "gamified" world designed to depict a street circuit in Barcelona. However, Cupra says the system could equally transport drivers anywhere in (or out of) the world from any location where there's enough space to do so.

Reality Loop interface

Cupra says the system works with Reality Loop technology that "allows events in the virtual world to physically affect the car, and vice versa." For example, the company says driving over a Mario Kart-style speed boost zone in the virtual course will result in a visceral torque boost for the car itself.

To make the system function properly, Cupra has had to design a completely custom-built gaming computer chassis, as well as sensor mounts and extensive safety features, not to mention a two-way communication system with the vehicle's electronics.

However, with those hurdles overcome, Cupra says the technology has "huge potential" for use in motorsport because it is "racing that is adapted to the contemporary needs of the next generation."

Experience racing in a different way

"The Cupra Exponential Experience brings to life something most drivers wouldn't typically experience: the incredible feeling of driving an electric racing car," said Xavi Serra, the head of Cupra racing. "[It is] a unique racing concept merging the virtual and physical worlds, allowing anyone to experience racing in a different way."


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Published on April 23, 2023