Toyota Made a Self-Drifting Supra with the Fun Nerds at Stanford University

Why make a robot for this? Put me in, coach!

Toyota

The Toyota Supra has always been a driftable machine in its many previous generations, and the latest "A90" is no exception. With nearly 400 horsepower, it has no problem lighting up the rear tires, but in this instance, it's doing it for a good cause. Yes, you can drift for more than just internet clout and traffic tickets.

Toyota's Research Institute partnered with Stanford University to create driving technology that helps prevent accidents. Part of this technology is the advanced maneuvering of a vehicle without human intervention, and apparently, with a few tweaks to that software, it's pretty easy to get a Supra drifting indefinitely under the control of a computer program. Or, these researchers make it look easy.

Toyota Research Institute via YouTube

This isn't Stanford University's first time around the block when it comes to making self-drifting cars. Back in 2019, we covered their self-drifting Delorean going on an autonomous Gymkhana run. Clearly they've adapted that impressive tech into this Supra race car, but that's not the whole story.

Toyota has been working long-term with Stanford University to teach the skills of someone like a professional drifter or racecar driver to automated vehicles. The theory is that race-winning car control combined with supercomputer speed can prevent traffic accidents. This drifting exercise is meant to make that whole process a bit more exciting, and easier to imagine. 

“Since 2008, our lab has taken inspiration from human race car drivers in designing algorithms that enable automated vehicles to handle the most challenging emergencies,” said Professor Chris Gerdes of Stanford University’s Dynamic Design Laboratory.  “Through this research, we have the opportunity to move these ideas much closer to saving lives on the road.”

Toyota and Stanford are sourcing resources and racing reflexes from none other than Toyota Racing Development (TRD) in the United States. They're also getting support from Toyota's Vehicle Dynamics Control Team, in order to apply this drifting architecture—as well as more useful architectures down the line—to more Toyota vehicles in the future. Together, they plan to not only destroy a lot of tires but gain valuable data and life-saving insight.

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