Ford F-150 Raptor virtual driving chair has a seatbelt — and you’ll need it

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That’s what the Ford F-150 Raptor driving simulator, lurking on the lower level of the Javits Center at the New York Auto Show, should say as you walk up to its imposing display.

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A combination virtual driving course and amusement park ride, the operators of the simulator demand that you sign a lengthy legal waiver before entering the circular area housing the intimidating machine.

In addition to the waiver, a large sign is posted nearby that prohibits anyone under 18 years old, under 5’2″ tall or over 220 pounds from entering. Those warnings alone give some indication of how intense the experience might be, but it’s not until you sit down behind the wheel of the interactive beast that you really find out just how seriously those warnings should be taken.

 

Ford Raptor simulator

Long story short: It’s like riding one of those old mechanical bulls, but in this case the “bull” is a dynamic chair designed to mimic the violent jerks of the real, nearly 5,000 pound 2015 Ford F-150 truck, and the surroundings aren’t inebriated bar patrons but three screens that show you a virtual display of where you’re traveling.

The off-road experience is fairly unsettling, forcing you to aggressively wrestle with the steering as you plunge into challenging backwoods terrain. There’s even a real seatbelt on the rig to strap you in, a safety device that you’ll actually need once you start jumping over virtual hills and screeching across pixelated dirt roads.

Seasoned car show veterans know that this simulator has been around for a few years, but this was my first time trying it out, and I was impressed, despite its vintage. As you might guess, I failed to get to the finish line, but the brief dance with the virtual pickup truck was enough to make me wistfully consider one day actually getting behind the wheel of a real one.

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