UK Police officers showed improved lap times and smoother car control after playing Gran Turismo Sport.
Racing games are evolving at a such rapid rate, it’s often difficult to tell an in-game screenshot of a detailed car model apart from a real-life photograph. It doesn’t seem like that long ago that a pixelated low-poly car model was considered a technical achievement. This level of realism also applies to the driving physics. Console racing games are now so realistic that professional racing drivers use them to hone their skills, as was the case with Gran Turismo which trained Jann Mardenborough to become a Le Mans driver during the GT Academy.
Now, Gran Turismo is being used to teach UK police officers real-world driving skills. Carbuyer reports that the Lincolnshire police force recently partnered with PlayStation, which invited four officers to attend an advanced driving course in Silverstone. The officers first had to set an initial lap time around the racing circuit in their police-spec BMWs before being tasked to race around the same track in Gran Turismo Sport. Areas for improvement such as under or oversteer, late braking, or approaching corners too fast were highlighted in the game. Officers then returned to the track to see if their virtual training had helped improve their real-world driving skills.
Several officers set better lap times and increased the smoothness and stability of their driving after playing the game. “There will never be a replacement for traditional training methods but we are always looking for innovative ways to supplement the learning of our officers and staff,” said Assistant Chief Constable Shaun West. “If Gran Turismo can help to train world-class racing drivers, then we were keen to explore whether it could offer anything to our officers and help expand the way we think about evolving and refreshing our training methods. Also, we’re really keen to progress our immersive learning and exploring this type of training fits that brief well.”
“We regularly ask ourselves: what more could we do to ensure our officers are trained to the highest standards while also accommodating the needs of a workforce that works varied hours, in a number of locations, and has different needs and expectations of respective roles?” Racing drivers and pilots often use simulations for training, but whether a video game can accurately simulate the driving skills and reaction times required in a high speed pursuit is up for debate. For now, this is just an experiment that’s being considered in addition to standard training.