Laserscan Technology in Assetto Corsa Competizione

By Antonela Pounder
on June 24, 2020

With Assetto Corsa Competizione out now on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, we thought it might be a good idea to tell you more about what makes the sim racing title so special. The Assetto Corsa brand prides itself on its attention to detail and incredible level of accuracy, thanks to Laserscan technology, something we’re going to go into more detail about today.

I spoke with Kunos Simulazioni’s very own Marco Massarutto about Laserscan technology and how it sets Assetto Corsa Competizione apart from the competition.

What exactly is Laserscan technology? Can you give us a brief explanation for those who know little about it?
MARCO – Laser scanning combines controlled steering of laser beams with a laser rangefinder. By taking a distance measurement in every direction, the scanner rapidly captures the surface shape of objects, buildings, and landscapes. In short, the result is a massive amount of data that consists in a very dense 3D point cloud, allowing the artists to understand with max precision exactly where all details are placed in the space. This includes circuit kerbs, the grass, poles and the little bumps that affect the way car suspensions behave on them.

Can you talk a little bit about how the laserscanning technique works in Assetto Corsa Competizione?
MARCO – When laserscanned data for a specific circuit is already available, we can decide whether we want to purchase it or capture the data ourselves. If we go for the second option, we then request access to the track with our supplier via the circuit themselves. Once the data has been grabbed and processed, (more on that later) we deliver this to our 3D environment department, led by Simone Trevisiol. From here they can import the data and start to model the 3D mesh copying the 3D surface shown by the point cloud. We began using this technology ten years ago, during the development of Ferrari Virtual Academy. Since then, we’ve improved in several areas, from the capture itself, to the way we use the data in the game. Once we get all the data we need to start, a single circuit can require up to four months of development time.

How long does it take on average to Laserscan a circuit?
MARCO – Since renting out a circuit can be far more expensive, compared to laserscan survey costs, we’ve gone for a mobile solution, that allows us to reduce the time we need to spend on track. The LS device is installed on the roof of a van, that completes X number of laps on the circuit at very low speed, while the infrared cameras capture the scene. The amount of time depends on the complexity of the track, the buildings surrounding it, track layout and details, etc. On average, it usually takes half a day to complete. While this is ongoing, photographers shoot all the pictures we need to recreate the 2D textures that „dress“ the 3D mesh.

How many circuits take advantage of Laserscan technology in Assetto Corsa Competizione?
MARCO – All of the circuits featured in game take advantage of Laserscan technology. The only exception is Zandvoort, as this was recreated by an external company for the previous Assetto Corsa title. As it was well received by our community for its appearance and precision, we didn’t feel the need to re-do it from scratch.

How will the player be able to tell they’re racing on a laserscanned circuit?
MARCO – Nice question! The player will tell you „wow, this feels the same as the real circuit“ once they take a car to the real track and compare. Because they will feel the same bumps, over time they will find themselves taking the same driving lines of the simulation, finding the same kerbs (shape, height) in places, as well as the same reference points they use for braking. Of course, jump online and you’ll see a bunch of comparison videos that show how accurate a laserscanned track really is, but nothing is more effective as driving the real thing to recognise it.

Huge thank you to Marco for taking the time to answer some of our questions today. The attention to detail gone into Assetto Corsa Competizione is astonishing and hopefully today’s deep dive into the Laserscan technology highlights that! There is a lot to get excited about with this Official GT World Challenge title. Experience it for yourself now on Steam, PlayStation 4 and Xbox.