McLaren Applied

Why smaller can be better for simulators


Why smaller can be better for simulators

The research and development process of road cars has rapidly evolved over the past couple of decades. As the demand from customers increases, automakers not only need to make vehicles at a lower cost, but also at a faster rate.

At McLaren, we believe simulation plays a crucial role in the development process of any vehicle. For over two decades, we have been using advanced simulation, data analytics and modelling to design, measure and improve the performance of Formula 1 cars.

In 2015, we partnered with world-leading test systems experts MTS, to create the Vehicle Dynamic Simulator (VDS) - a next-generation driving simulator engineered to provide automakers and tier 1 suppliers with a revolutionary means for accelerating and streamlining the development processes of road vehicles.

The VDS delivers outstanding dynamic response and the broad frequency bandwidth required to perform primary and secondary ride as well as detailed handing studies. It features a proven system of high frequency cueing via steering feedback, vestibular motion cueing, and sustained load mechanisms in order to give the most accurate driver feedback.

So why did McLaren design a more compact motion platform instead of the larger platforms adopted by other simulator providers?

Outstanding dynamic response

The compact and lightweight platform on the VDS provides high-frequency feedback with negligible delay to give the driver the closest experience to driving a real car. We believe the driver should feel every movement instantly, avoiding any delay in movement which would dilute the feedback to the driver.

The Vehicle Dynamics Simulator's platform delivers outstanding dynamic response
The Vehicle Dynamics Simulator's platform delivers outstanding dynamic response

This in turn makes the driver’s feedback to the engineers more precise and useful. This level of accurate high-frequency feedback is not possible on larger platforms, mainly because of the inherent inertia and high-friction ball-screw actuators used in such solutions.


It is vital that the driver’s sensation of the car is not influenced by the requirement to slow down before reaching a travel envelope limit. Our expertise in cueing and driver feedback enables us to give the best possible sensation and immersion to the driver, without requiring large simulator travel. We achieve this by making the very best use of the simulator’s capabilities for the particular test being carried out. This optimised and precise feedback enables the driver to accurately distinguish extremely small engineering changes, enabling quick iteration and confidence in results.

Force control

The VDS platform uses low friction direct drive actuation, with a unique parallel load support mechanism, rather than the highly geared ball-screw actuators used in larger and heavier systems, which are high in friction and therefore limit dynamic capability. This enables the VDS to operate in force control, rather than position control, giving more direct and immediate authority over the platform accelerations experienced by the driver, allowing them to feel the motion of the car, rather than the simulator.


Many simulators require a large space above and below ground due to the accompanying seismic mass, which can involve substantial modifications to existing facilities. The compact, lightweight and low power nature of our VDS platform means it can be installed in a conventional engineering facility, with minimal foundation and facility requirement.

We ultimately believe the MTS Vehicle Dynamic Simulator offers the best value for automakers in terms of the quality of feedback to both drivers and engineers.

For information about our Vehicle Dynamic Simulator, click here.

To book a demo at the McLaren Technology Centre, please email us, here.

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