Driving simulators are fun, but most are little more than glorified video games. So when Lexus decided that they needed something a little more realistic, they ended up building this mind-boggling machine that covers an area larger then a football field.
The giant 15-ft by 20-ft dome houses and entire Lexus car, while the inside of the dome works like a mini Omnimax theater, projecting the surrounding streets and traffic in every direction visible from inside the car.
The dome is mounted on six hydraulic rams that can tilt the dome to give a feeling of movement just like any fancy flight simulator, but the real trick is that the entire dome assembly is mounted on rails that can move it in any direction to give a real sensation of speed. Lexus says that it can simulate speeds up to 186-mph, fast enough thank you.
Lexus plans to use the simulator to test how normal drivers react under a variety of circumstances, without any risk of causing a real accident. For example, they could get someone really hammered, then test their reaction times against a sober driver. What's cool about using a simulator is that you can run a test with several different drivers under absolutely identical conditions. So if a dog runs out into the path of the car at some point, you can create the exact same scenario for each test driver.
Unfortunately the simulator is only for Lexus' internal use, but they do say that they hire regular people as test drivers. Something to check into on your next trip to Japan.