Watch This 2021 Toyota GR Supra Drift All By Itself

Illustration for article titled Watch This 2021 Toyota GR Supra Drift All By Itself
Image: Toyota

Drifting is already cool, but autonomously drifting in the name of science is a hell of a lot cooler. The Toyota Research Institute has paired up with Stanford University to develop safer cars for regular drivers by getting its 2021 GR Supra to drift on its own. Let’s run you through why.

As the Toyota website puts it, “The engineers are conducting research into how to bring together the instincts of professional drivers and automated driving technology. Their goal is to design a new level of active safety technology and share it broadly so that Toyota and other auto manufacturers can deploy it on the road.”

In other words, professional drivers have spent their lives developing their reflexes. Those skills often have to do with reflexes and intuition, which are things that a computer still struggles to replicate—especially at high speeds or in challenging circumstances. Using those professional drivers to teach autonomous systems how to function better in situations where they need to make snap decisions.

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It also looks sick as hell.

“Every day, there are deadly vehicle crashes that result from extreme situations where most drivers would need superhuman skills to avoid a collision,” Gill Pratt, TRI CEO and Chief Scientist at Toyota, said. “The reality is that every driver has vulnerabilities, and to avoid a crash, drivers often need to make maneuvers that are beyond their abilities.”

Toyota does note that most driving doesn’t require those aforementioned superhuman skills, but it’s always good to plan for the extreme contingencies. Crashes at high highway speeds require fast reflexes. Right now, autonomous cars know how to handle those situations, but the whole goal now is to avoid them altogether.

You can read more about the study through the “Opening New Dimensions: Vehicle Motion Planning and Control using Brakes while Drifting” article published by Stanford University.

Weekends at Jalopnik. Managing editor at A Girl's Guide to Cars. Lead IndyCar writer and assistant editor at Frontstretch. Novelist. Motorsport fanatic.

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DISCUSSION

This, so much this. I would imagine 99% of regular folks don’t ever practice what I call “Oh FUCK!” driving or riding. Every chance I have gotten to drive on snow or ice, I would intentional lockup the brakes or try to get going sideways. Even a large parking lot on a rainy day will yield a lot of experience and fore knowledge. If you don’t practice dangerous driving scenarios, what do you think will happen when it happens in real life? Just like professional fighters don’t just hit punching bags, they need sparring partners too. I knew a biker who would practice “crashing” on his spare bike at home just to practice jumping off in the event of a underwear staining event.