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Apparatus system and method for adapting a scaled vehicle remote controller for use with an enhanced controller

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Publication number
US20040077284A1
US20040077284A1 US10356407 US35640703A US2004077284A1 US 20040077284 A1 US20040077284 A1 US 20040077284A1 US 10356407 US10356407 US 10356407 US 35640703 A US35640703 A US 35640703A US 2004077284 A1 US2004077284 A1 US 2004077284A1
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Prior art keywords
control
controller
signal
vehicle
module
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Legal status (The legal status is an assumption and is not a legal conclusion. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation as to the accuracy of the status listed.)
Abandoned
Application number
US10356407
Inventor
Victor Bonilla
James McCabe
Current Assignee (The listed assignees may be inaccurate. Google has not performed a legal analysis and makes no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the list.)
Racing Visions Investments Inc
Original Assignee
Bonilla Victor G.
Mccabe James W.
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    • AHUMAN NECESSITIES
    • A63SPORTS; GAMES; AMUSEMENTS
    • A63HTOYS, e.g. TOPS, DOLLS, HOOPS, BUILDING BLOCKS
    • A63H30/00Remote-control arrangements specially adapted for toys, e.g. for toy vehicles
    • A63H30/02Electrical arrangements
    • A63H30/04Electrical arrangements using wireless transmission

Abstract

A method, apparatus, and system are disclosed for adapting an existing scaled vehicle remote controller for use with an enhanced controller. An enhanced controller modifies control signals to conform to the response features of an existing controller. The modified control signal is transmitted to an original remote controller and broadcast to a scaled vehicle. The enhanced control system can control the scaled vehicle with no changes to the vehicle and only modest changes to the original vehicle controller. The present invention allows existing remote control vehicles to be used in more sophisticated competitions and driven using enhanced operational environments.

Description

    RELATED APPLICATIONS
  • [0001]
    This application is a Continuation-In-Part of and claims priority to U.S. Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/353,642, filed on Jan. 31, 2002 for Racing Visions, L.L.C., and for Provisional Patent Application Serial No. 60/374,440 filed on Apr. 22, 2002 for Racing Visions, L.L.C.
  • BACKGROUND OF THE INVENTION
  • [0002]
    1. The Field of the Invention
  • [0003]
    The invention relates to controlling a scaled vehicle using an alternate remote control system. Specifically, the invention relates to controlling a scaled vehicle by interfacing an alternate, enhanced remote control system to the vehicle's original remote controller.
  • [0004]
    2. The Relevant Art
  • [0005]
    Hobbyists own hundreds of thousands of scaled, remote control vehicles. Users can maneuver or race these vehicles individually using a vehicle's original controller systems. However, there is a growing demand to employ scaled vehicles in increasingly sophisticated events that exceed the capabilities of the original controllers. Remote scaled-vehicle competitions require increased organization and control of drivers, many of whom are young or novice competitors. A track marshal may need to temporarily control vehicles in order to position them for the start of a race, resolve accidents or mechanical failures, and maintain order on the track.
  • [0006]
    There is a growing interest in driving remote control vehicles using advanced maneuvering and feedback systems. However, advanced features, services, and functionality cannot be made available to existing scaled vehicle users because their vehicles use a variety of incompatible controllers. Currently, enhanced remote control systems must be closely integrated with a racing or driving venue. Racing venue operators cannot economically supply the variety of expensive enhanced remote control systems needed to allow all users operate their vehicles with a venue's added features, services, and functionality. Without access to advanced remote control systems, vehicles cannot be controlled in centrally managed and directed events and competitions. Users also cannot take advantage of advanced driving and racing services such as remote vision, driving simulator cockpits and controls, or computer enhancement of a user's driving.
  • [0007]
    What is needed are methods, apparatus, and systems for allowing more sophisticated remote vehicle controllers to control and operate existing scaled vehicles by adapting a vehicle's original remote controller for use with an alternate controller. In particular, what is needed is a method, apparatus, and system for interfacing an enhanced remote control system with the transmitter of an existing remote controller, thereby allowing the enhanced remote control system to manipulate a vehicle with modest modifications to the original controller and without changes to the vehicle.
  • BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE INVENTION
  • [0008]
    The various elements of the present invention have been developed in response to the present state of the art, and in particular, in response to the problems and needs in the art that have not yet been fully solved by currently available scaled remote vehicles. Accordingly, the present invention provides an improved apparatus, method, and system for maneuvering existing scaled vehicles with an enhanced remote control system. In one aspect of the present invention, a method of interfacing an enhanced controller of a remote control system to an original remote controller of an existing scaled vehicle is presented. A user controls a scaled vehicle through an enhanced controller while using the additional features, services, and functionality of the remote control system.
  • [0009]
    In another aspect of the present invention, an apparatus is also presented and provided with an enhanced controller that converts a user's control inputs into a control signal. The enhanced controller also modifies the control signal to match the operating parameters of the original remote controller and the scaled vehicle. The apparatus is further provided with a connection to an original remote controller. The connection supplies the enhanced controller's control signal to the remote controller's transmitter. The apparatus allows a user to control a scaled vehicle with an alternate enhanced controller through the vehicle's original remote controller.
  • [0010]
    Various elements of the present invention are combined into a system for maneuvering a scaled vehicle. The system provides a user with an enhanced controller for generating a control signal. The system substitutes the enhanced controller's control signal for the control signal of the original scaled vehicle remote controller. The system employs the vehicle's original remote controller to broadcast the enhanced controller's control signal to the scaled vehicle.
  • [0011]
    The present invention facilitates a user controlling an existing scaled vehicle with an enhanced remote vehicle controller system. The present invention may also support an advanced operational environment, including video, audio, motion, and/or force feedback to the user. In one embodiment, the present invention facilitates a track marshal taking control of an existing scaled vehicle to manage recreational and racing events. The present invention further supports modification of a user's driving commands to improve or change maneuvering performance. These and other features and advantages of the present invention will become more fully apparent from the following description and appended claims, or may be learned by the practice of the invention as set forth hereinafter.
  • BRIEF DESCRIPTION OF THE DRAWINGS
  • [0012]
    In order that the manner in which the advantages and objects of the invention are obtained will be readily understood, a more particular description of the invention briefly described above will be rendered by reference to specific embodiments thereof, which are illustrated in the appended drawings. Understanding that these drawings depict only typical embodiments of the invention and are not therefore to be considered to be limiting of its scope, the invention will be described and explained with additional specificity and detail through the use of the accompanying drawings in which:
  • [0013]
    [0013]FIG. 1 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a remote control system in accordance with the prior art;
  • [0014]
    [0014]FIG. 2 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an enhanced controller/remote controller system of the present invention;
  • [0015]
    [0015]FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of a remote control system of the present invention;
  • [0016]
    [0016]FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an enhanced controller of the present invention;
  • [0017]
    [0017]FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating one embodiment of a remote control method in accordance with the prior art; and
  • [0018]
    [0018]FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating one embodiment of a remote control method in accordance with the present invention.
  • DETAILED DESCRIPTION OF THE INVENTION
  • [0019]
    Many of the functional units described in this specification have been labeled as modules, in order to more particularly emphasize their implementation independence. For example, a module may be implemented as a hardware circuit comprising custom VLSI circuits or gate arrays, off-the-shelf semiconductors such as logic chips, transistors, or other discrete components. A module may also be implemented in programmable hardware devices such as field programmable gate arrays, programmable array logic, programmable logic devices or the like.
  • [0020]
    Modules may also be implemented in software for execution by various types of processors. An identified module of executable code may, for instance, comprise one or more physical or logical blocks of computer instructions which may, for instance, be organized as an object, procedure, or function. Nevertheless, the executables of an identified module need not be physically located together, but may comprise disparate instructions stored in different locations which, when joined logically together, comprise the module and achieve the stated purpose for the module.
  • [0021]
    Indeed, a module of executable code could be a single instruction, or many instructions, and may even be distributed over several different code segments, among different programs, and across several memory devices. Similarly, operational data may be identified and illustrated herein within modules, and may be embodied in any suitable form viola 20 and organized within any suitable type of data structure. The operational data may be collected as a single data set, or may be distributed over different locations including over different storage devices, and may exist, at least partially, merely as electronic signals on a system or network.
  • [0022]
    Referring to FIG. 1, a remote control system 100 is illustrated that is representative of the environment wherein the present invention may be deployed. The remote control system 100 allows a user to maneuver a scaled vehicle 150. The depicted remote control system 100 includes a remote controller 110 and a scaled vehicle 150. The remote controller 110 includes a mechanical control input module 120, a transducer module 130, an encoder module 135, and a transmitter module 140. The scaled vehicle 150 includes a receiver module 160, a decoder module 165 and an actuator module 170.
  • [0023]
    In one embodiment, a user may maneuver the scaled vehicle 150 by manipulating the mechanical control input module 120. The transducer module 130 converts a mechanical control input into an electrical control signal. The encoder module 135 encodes the control signal. The transmitter module 140 broadcasts the control signal. The receiver module 160 of the scaled vehicle 150 receives the control signal. The decoder module 165 decodes the control signal. In response to control signal, the actuator module 170 manipulates an actuator, such as a steering mechanism, of the scaled vehicle 150. Manipulating an actuator of the scaled vehicle 150 allows the user to maneuver the scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0024]
    [0024]FIG. 2 is a schematic block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an enhanced controller/remote controller system 200 of the present invention. The depicted system 200 includes an enhanced controller module 210 and a marshal controller module 230. The depicted system 200 further includes a remote controller 110 with a mechanical control input module 120, a transducer module 130, an encoder module 135, a control circuit connection module 220, and a transmitter module 140.
  • [0025]
    The system 200 maneuvers a scaled vehicle 150 with an enhanced controller module 210 configured to introduce a control signal into the original remote controller 110 of the scaled vehicle 150. In this way, the enhanced controller module 210 provides a control interface for maneuvering a scaled vehicle 150. Control interfaces may be items commonly found in a standard vehicle 150 including a steering wheel, handlebars, gas pedal, brake, clutch, stick shift, speedometers, or gauges. Control interfaces may alsoincludejoysticks, game pads, and pointing devices. The enhanced controller module 210 converts an input to a control interface into a control signal.
  • [0026]
    The enhanced control module 210 connects to an original remote controller 110 of a scaled vehicle 150 through a control circuit connection module 220. The control circuit connection module 220 replaces a control signal that is input into a remote controller's 110 encoder module 135. The control signal is broadcast to a scaled vehicle 150 by the transmitter module 140. The mechanical control input module 120 and the transducer module 130 are not used by the remote control system 200.
  • [0027]
    The marshal controller module 230 provides means for a track marshal to maneuver a scaled vehicle 150. Through the marshal controller module 230 a track marshal may override a control signal of the enhanced control module 210. In one embodiment, the marshal controller module 230 may facilitate positioning or removal of a scaled vehicle 150 in a racing event.
  • [0028]
    [0028]FIG. 3 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an enhanced remote control system 300 of the present invention. The remote control system 300 provides a plurality of feedback, race management, and performance enhancement features to a user controlling a scaled vehicle 150 using an original remote controller 110. The depicted system 300 includes a remote controller 110, an enhanced controller 210, a control signal modification module 310, a video feedback module 320, a motion feedback module 330, a force feedback module 340, an olfactory feedback module 350, an audio feedback module 360, a tactile feedback module 370, and a track management module 380.
  • [0029]
    The enhanced controller 210 generates a control signal from a user control input. The control signal is broadcast to a scaled vehicle 150 through the remote controller 110 as illustrated in FIG. 2. Control inputs may come from a variety of devices including steering wheels, gear-shift levers, gas pedals, brake pedals, handle bars, joy sticks, control yokes, control levers, or game controllers.
  • [0030]
    The control signal modification module 310 provides services for modifying a control signal from the enhanced control module 210. The control signal modification module 310 modifies the control signal to conform to a remote controller 110 of an existing scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0031]
    In one embodiment, the control signal modification module 310 improves the maneuvering performance of a scaled vehicle 150. The control signal modification module 310 may slow the response of the control signal to control inputs, improving the maneuvering performance of novice drivers. The control signal modification module 310 may also simulate the maneuvering response of a target vehicle.
  • [0032]
    The video feedback module 320 in one embodiment provides services for displaying a video image. The image may be provided from at least one video camera 106 mounted on a scaled vehicle 150. In an alternate embodiment, the video image is provided from at least one video camera mounted adjacent a track. The video image may also be simulated from the positions of a scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0033]
    The motion feedback module 330 in one embodiment provides a user with a sensation of the motion of a scaled vehicle 150 by modifying the physical position of the user in from an original position. For example, small motions of a user's driving cockpit may simulate acceleration, cornering, and braking. The force feedback module 340 provides a user with force feedback in a control interface of the enhanced controller 210. For example, a steering wheel control interface may resist being turned by a user or a clutch may vibrate or resist being released. Similarly, a gear-shift lever may also simulate grinding if the user attempts to shift gears incorrectly.
  • [0034]
    The olfactory feedback module 350 may in one embodiment provide a user with a smell or scent associated with a racing experience. The olfactory feedback module 350 may introduce a subtle scent resembling high-octane fuel. In a similar manner, the audio feedback module 360 may provide a user with audio feedback similar to that of a racing experience. For example, the audio feedback module 360 may provide a user with audio feedback from microphones mounted on the scaled vehicle 150. In an alternate embodiment, the audio feedback module 360 may provide simulated racing sounds based on the status of control inputs. For example, the audio feedback module 360 may be configured to provide the sound of squealing tires while the user initiates a turn, or the sound of an accelerating engine as the user depresses an accelerator pedal. The tactile feedback module 370 in one embodiment provides a user with the tactile sensations associated with maneuvering a vehicle. A stream of air may simulate wind striking a driver. The air stream may increase or decrease depending on the speed of the scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0035]
    The track management module 380 in one embodiment provides services for a track marshal to control a scaled vehicle 150 independent of a user's enhanced controller 210. Allowing a track marshal to independently control a scaled vehicle 150 facilitates racing or orderly track use. A track marshal may use the track management module 380 to correctly position all scaled vehicles 150 for the start of a race. A track marshal may also use the track management module 380 to take control of a vehicle 150 that is behaving erratically and remove the vehicle 150 from the track.
  • [0036]
    [0036]FIG. 4 is a block diagram illustrating one embodiment of an enhanced controller 600 of the present invention. The enhanced controller 400 converts a user control input for maneuvering a scaled vehicle 150 into a control signal capable of driving the transmitter 140 of the vehicle's original remote controller 110. The enhanced controller 400 is substantially similar to the enhanced controller 210 of FIG. 2 and includes a mechanical control input module 410, a transducer module 420, an analog to digital module 430, a digital processing module 440, and a digital to analog module 450.
  • [0037]
    The illustrated mechanical control input module 410 accepts a user control input. The mechanical control input module 410 may include a steering wheel, a control lever, a handlebar assembly, an accelerator pedal, a brake, a clutch, a gear-shift lever, or a joystick. The transducer module 420 converts a mechanical motion of the mechanical control input module 410 into an analog electrical signal. The analog to digital module 430 converts the analog electrical signal of the transducer module 420 into a digital control signal.
  • [0038]
    The digital processing module 640 in one embodiment processes a digital control signal to conform to a remote controller 110 of an existing scaled vehicle 150. The digital processing module 440 may modify the digital control signal to improve the maneuvering performance of the user and scaled vehicle 150. For example, the digital processing module 440 may slow the response of a digital control signal for a novice user so that the scaled vehicle 150 is more easily maneuvered. The digital processing module 440 may also modify control signals simulating the response of a target vehicle. In one instance, a track marshal may override the digital control signal with an alternate digital control signal, allowing the track marshal to take control of a scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0039]
    The digital to analog module 450 converts the processed digital control signal into an analog signal. The analog signal is provided to the control circuit connection module 220 as shown in FIG. 2.
  • [0040]
    [0040]FIG. 5 is a flow chart illustrating one embodiment of a remote control method 500 in accordance with the prior art. The remote control method 500 facilitates maneuvering of a scaled vehicle 150 by a user. Although for purposes of clarity the steps of the remote control method 500 are depicted in a certain sequential order, execution of the steps within an actual system, such as the system 100 of FIG. 1, may be conducted in parallel and not necessarily in the depicted order.
  • [0041]
    The depicted remote control method 500 includes a user inputs step 510, a mechanical to electrical step 520, an encode control signal step 525, a control signal transmission step 530, a control signal receiving step 540, a decode control signal step 545, a control actuation step 550, and an end step 560. The control inputs step 510 accepts a user control input for maneuvering a scaled vehicle 150. Control inputs are accepted from a steering wheel, a control lever, a gear-shift lever, an accelerator pedal, a brake pedal, a handle bar, a control lever, or a joystick. The mechanical to electrical step 520 converts the user's mechanical control input motion into an control signal. The encode control signal step 535 encodes the control signal. The control signal transmission step 530 broadcasts the control signal from a remote controller 110. The control signal receiving step 540 receives a control signal at a scaled vehicle 150. The decode control signal step 545 decodes the control signal. The control actuation step 550 modifies the position of actuators on a scaled vehicle 150 according the parameters of the control signal. The change in actuator position controls the motion of the scaled vehicle 150, allowing the user to maneuver the scaled vehicle 150. The method 500 then terminates at the end step 560.
  • [0042]
    [0042]FIG. 6 is a flow chart illustrating one embodiment of a remote control method 600 of the present invention. The remote control method 600 facilitates maneuvering of a scaled vehicle 150 by a user through an enhanced remote control system 300. Although for purposes of clarity the steps of the remote control method 600 are depicted in a certain sequential order, execution of the steps within an actual system, such as the system 200 of FIG. 2, may be conducted in parallel and not necessarily in the depicted order.
  • [0043]
    The depicted remote control method 600 includes a user inputs step 610, a mechanical to digital step 620, a digital processing step 630, and a digital to analog step 640. The control method 600 further includes the encode control signal step 525, the control signal transmission step 530, the control signal receiving step 540, the decode control signal step 545, the control actuation step 550 of the remote control method 500 of FIG. 5, and an end step 650.
  • [0044]
    The user inputs step 610 accepts a user input for maneuvering a scaled vehicle 150. The mechanical to digital step 620 converts the user input into a digital control signal. The digital processing step 630 processes the digital control signal. For example, the digital processing step 630 modifies the digital control signal to conform with an original remote controller 110 of a target scaled vehicle 150. The digital processing step 630 may also modify the digital control signal to improve the maneuvering performance of the user and scaled vehicle 150. The digital processing step 630 may further modify the digital control signal to simulate the response of a target vehicle. In one embodiment, a track marshal may override the digital control signal with an alternate digital control signal, allowing the track marshal to take control of a scaled vehicle 150.
  • [0045]
    The digital to analog step 640 converts a digital control signal into an analog control signal. The encode control signal step 525 encodes the control. The control signal transmission step 530 broadcasts the control signal using the original remote controller 110 of the scaled vehicle 150. The control signal receiving step 540 receives a control signal at a scaled vehicle 150. The decode control signal step 545 decodes the control signal. The control actuation step 550 modifies the position of actuators on a scaled vehicle 150 according the parameters of the control signal. The change in actuator position controls the motion of the scaled vehicle 150, allowing the user to maneuver the scaled vehicle 150. The method 600 then terminates at the end step 650.
  • [0046]
    The present invention allows a user to maneuver an existing scaled vehicle 150 with an enhanced controller/remote control system 200 that supports additional features, services, and functionality. In particular, the present invention supports the maneuvering of an existing scaled vehicle with an enhanced remote control system 300 with improved control inputs, added feedback options, and provided with capabilities to manage a sophisticated racing event.
  • [0047]
    The present invention may be embodied in other specific forms without departing from its spirit or essential characteristics. The described embodiments are to be considered in all respects only as illustrative and not restrictive. The scope of the invention is, therefore, indicated by the appended claims rather than by the foregoing description. All changes which come within the meaning and range of equivalency of the claims are to be embraced within their scope.

Claims (26)

What is claimed is:
1. A method for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the method comprising:
providing a remote controller for remotely controlling the scaled vehicle, the remote controller comprising a transducer and a transmitter;
connecting an enhanced controller to the remote controller transmitter; and
transmitting a control signal to the scaled vehicle.
2. The method of claim 1, further comprising modifying a control signal of the enhanced controller to conform to an operating parameter of the remote controller.
3. The method of claim 1, further comprising overriding the control signal from the enhanced controller with a track marshal control signal.
4. The method of claim 3, further comprising transmitting the track marshal control signal to the scaled vehicle.
5. The method of claim 1, further comprising modifying a control signal of the enhanced controller to change a maneuvering characteristic of the scaled vehicle.
6. A method for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the method comprising:
providing a remote controller for remotely controlling the scaled vehicle, the remote controller comprising a transducer and a transmitter;
connecting an enhanced controller to the remote controller transmitter;
transmitting a control signal to the scaled vehicle;
modifying a control signal of the enhanced controller to conform to an operating parameter of the remote controller; and
modifying a control signal of the enhanced controller to change a maneuvering characteristic of the scaled vehicle.
7. The method of claim 6, further comprising overriding the control signal from the enhanced controller with a track marshal control signal.
8. The method of claim 7, further comprising transmitting the track marshal control signal to the scaled vehicle.
9. An apparatus for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the apparatus comprising:
a connection circuit connected to the remote controller;
the connection circuit configured to receive a control signal from the enhanced controller; and
a transmitter configured to transmit the control signal to the scaled vehicle.
10. The apparatus of claim 9, wherein the connection circuit is further configured to modify the control signal from the enhanced controller to conform to an operational parameter of the remote controller.
11. A system for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the system comprising:
the remote controller configured to receive a control signal from the enhanced controller and transmit the control signal to the scaled vehicle; and
the enhanced controller configured to receive a a maneuvering feedback response from the scaled vehicle and communicate the maneuvering feedback response to a user.
12. The system of claim 11, further comprising a control signal modification module configured to modify a control signal from the enhanced controller to conform to an operational parameter of the remote controller.
13. The system of claim 11, further comprising a control signal modification module configured to modify a control signal from the enhanced controller to change a maneuvering characteristic of the scaled vehicle.
14. The system of claim 11, further comprising a video feedback module configured to communicate a video feedback response to the enhanced controller.
15. The system of claim 11, further comprising a force feedback module configured to communicate a force feedback response to the enhanced controller.
16. The system of claim 11, further comprising a motion feedback module configured to communicate a motion feedback response to the enhanced controller.
17. The system of claim 11, further comprising an audio feedback module configured to communicate a audio feedback response to the enhanced controller.
18. The system of claim 11, further comprising a tactile feedback module configured to communicate a tactile feedback response to the enhanced controller.
19. The system of claim 11, further comprising an olfactory module configured to communicate an olfactory feedback response to the enhanced controller.
20. An apparatus for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the apparatus comprising:
means for generating a control signal with the enhanced controller; means for communicating the control signal to the remote controller; and
means for transmitting the control signal to the scaled vehicle.
21. The apparatus of claim 20, the apparatus further comprising means for overriding a control signal from the enhanced controller with a track marshal control signal.
22. The apparatus of claim 20, the apparatus further comprising means for modifying the control signal to change a maneuvering characteristic of the scaled vehicle.
23. The apparatus of claim 20, the apparatus further comprising means for communicating a maneuvering feedback response to a user.
24. A computer readable storage medium comprising computer readable program code configured to carry out a method for adapting a remote controller of a scaled vehicle for use with an enhanced controller, the method comprising:
receiving a control signal from the enhanced controller;
modifying the control signal to conform to an operational parameter of the remote controller; and
transmitting the control signal to the scaled vehicle.
25. The computer readable storage medium of claim 24, wherein the method further comprises overriding the control signal from the enhanced controller with a track marshal control signal.
26. The computer readable storage medium of claim 24, wherein the method further comprises modifying the control signal of the enhanced controller to change a maneuvering characteristic of the scaled vehicle.
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