Space Drive project - Behind the digital wheel with Mr. DTM & Mr. Safety Car
Pfronstetten-Aichelau/ Hockenheimring. Mr. Safety Car Bernd Mayländer and 5-time DTM Champion Bernd Schneider will share the cockpit of the Mercedes AMG GT3 #31 for the GTC Race season finale at the Hockenheimring from 6 to 8 November. The prominent driver duo will contest the Goodyear 60 together, Bernd Schneider will then race for places in the GTC Race on Saturday, Bernd Mayländer on Sunday. The races both start at 11:50 a.m. and can be followed in the live stream.
The Mercedes-AMG GT3 with the starting number 31, which belongs to the Space Drive development project of Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co. KG and is supported by HWA Engineering Speed, manages entirely without a mechanical connection between the steering unit and the steering gear. So far, the car has been successfully driven by Maximilian Götz and Patrick Assenheimer in the last two GTC races.
I see very clear advantages when you drive with Space Drive. You can simply drive more precisely.
"I'm fascinated from the first kilometre because I didn't have to adjust to the steering," Mayländer said after the first test drive at the Hockheimring. "I've never driven a car without a steering column before, around the first two corners and then you're in the system, then you know how it feels." Bernd Schneider sat in the Space Drive cockpit of the AMG GT3 during various tests earlier this year. "A lot has changed. The final stand feels realistic, almost like it has a steering column," he says. "When I went out then, I already knew after half a lap, I have confidence in the system and I'm sure, steer-by-wire is the future.
The two motorsport legends, who as brand ambassadors for AMG contest many motorsport events as well as race track training together, were happy to put themselves at the service of the Space Drive project and stand in for the regular drivers, who are competing at the same time in the ADAC GT Master season finale. For both, motorsport is an important development platform for future technologies.
"It is an innovation that motorsport needs, because in motorsport everything is developed a bit faster and more dynamically. Space Drive already has advantages on the race track. When you drive over the curbs, we have made the experience, the steering wheel is simply calmer in the driver's hand," says Schneider, who has already been involved in many developments from motorsport. "I see very clear advantages when you drive with Space Drive. You can simply drive more precisely," Mayländer also says after the first test. "You can create new interiors with the system, you can drive autonomously with it at some point and we have the application in racing. I don't think you can test a system like this any better."
The two racing legends will now climb into the cockpit together for the GTC season finale at Hockenheim. The Goodyear 60 is scheduled for Friday. Bernd Schneider will drive the practice session as well as the first half of the one-hour race. Bernd Mayländer will drive the race to the finish. For him, it is his first active race participation in a GT3 car in a long time. The race on Saturday will be contested by Bernd Schneider before Mr. Safety Car is back behind the wheel on Sunday.
Space Drive Key technology for autonomous driving
Almost 20 years ago, the Space Drive electronic driving and steering system was born out of mobility for the disabled. Together with company founder Roland Arnold, PARAVAN GmbH developed a system that helped people with severe mobility impairments regain independent mobility. Thanks to individually adaptable input devices, such as a joystick or mini steering wheel, they could drive a car independently again via a cable. An important prerequisite: the system had to be redundant even then, because in an emergency, for example, a paraplegic driver cannot intervene with his hands. In further development, it quickly became clear that such a steering system is an important prerequisite for autonomous driving. Because only in this way can the signals from driving machines, artificial intelligence also be transmitted safely to the road. Since 2018, the key technology for autonomous driving has been further developed at Schaeffler Paravan Technologie GmbH & Co.KG and has been tested on the race track since 2019. Space Drive is approved by the German Motor Sports Federation (DMSB). Since this season, the steering technology has been firmly anchored in the GTC Race regulations. In the meantime, six technology carriers of various designs are driving with this system.
About the GTC Race and Goodyear 60
The success story of the GTC Race began in 1990 with the Hockenheim Cup (later also Divinol Cup, DMV TCC and DMV GTC). Eligible to start in the GTC Race are drivers with an international licence. Two drivers can share one car. Two separate races, two qualifying sessions and one free practice session will be held. The races will be divided into different classes. In addition, the 60-minute Goodyear 60 race will also take place at each GTC Race event. The series comprises two GTC sprint races of 30 minutes each with no driver changes or pit stops. The Goodyear 60 will be contested over one hour and must be with a mandatory pit stop, pilot change is possible. The GTC Race season finale from 6 to 8 November 2020 at the Hockenheimring will be held as part of the DTM. In a total of five classes and with a series-specific BoP (Balance of Performance), current GT3 models, GT3 predecessor models, GT4 vehicles as well as Porsche 991 GT3 Cup and Super Trofeo racing cars from Lamborghini will compete against each other.