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Simucube Active Pedal: How It Is Going To Advance Hardware

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The next big step in SimRacing hardware looks like it should be taken in the pedal department. Simucube’s Active Pedal shows what is possible already – and while it is not affordable for the average SimRacer, it does serve as a pointer for things to come.

The high-end pedal segment is rather populated in 2022: Numerous manufacturers have popped up over the last few years, offering their own interpretations of load-cell based pedals. They all use either springs, elastomers or hydraulics to achieve the pedal feel of a real racing car. And their sets are a big step forward from the equipment of just a few years ago, giving SimRacers a great feel for what is beneath their feet.

Feedback from the pedals, however, has not been tried much yet: Bass shakers or vibration motors are possible, and the rare pedal with force feedback (by Simtag, for example) has made an appearance here and there, too. This is where pedals could really be taken to the next level: Feeling the ABS in the brake pedal, simulating hydraulics failures, brake wear – these things and more could be included in the pedal set of the future.

What Simucube’s Active Pedal Can Do

The Active Pedal by Simucube can do all these things – and more – already. As opposed to conventional pedal sets, you will have two or three identical pedals using a motor in your rig should you opt for them, which not many SimRacers will do for now as the pedals come with a considerable price tag. The difference is all in the software: It is possible to configure the pedal feel any way you would like, be it a throttle, clutch or brake.

This opens the possibility to change the feel of the brake on the fly, for example. No need to manually switch out elastomers or springs when you want to go from a stiff brake to a softer one – it is as simple as adjusting a value in the Simucube software or loading a profile. In the blink of an eye, you can transform your pedal set to whatever you like and customize the feedback it gives.

© Simucube

First Impressions of the Active Pedal

The Active Pedal was one of the main attractions at the 2022 ADAC SimRacing Expo, and we could not pass up the opportunity to have a go with it, of course. The pedal feel is astounding, as we tried a stiff brake pedal with and without FFB for the ABS, and even a throttle pedal using FFB for traction control effects, which saved us from a spin at the exit of Variante Ascari at Monza.

What most surprised us, though, was how easy it was to change things in the Simucube software. Any change in pedal curve or stiffness could be felt immediately. The pedals can be configured to use anything from 2,5 to 200kg of pressure, although the recommended maximum is 180kg – which is plenty for a brake. The already announced downloadable car profiles make for an interesting possibility to recreate the exact pedal feel of any car for your simulator with minimal effort.

So, Who is the Pedal For?

Of course, this is not something all SimRacers would use. Most are fine with their pedal feel once they found a comfortable setting for them and do not change it around, but if you frequently change cars and aim to drive them as authentically as possible, this feature comes in very handy. The added feedback makes it possible to find the limit under braking much easier as you can feel when the ABS or TC start to kick in, providing a reference point that you want to get as close as possible to to maximize braking and acceleration, but not go over.

Many SimRacers could not understand the pricing for the set – three pedals will set you back more than 6000€ after all – and figured they might as well buy a real track day car, but it is important to remember that Simucube likely was not aiming for the mass market with the Active Pedal. Professional racers, high-tech simulator builders, racing teams, or experience centers will likely take a closer look at the pedals, however.

And yet, SimRacers are likely going to benefit from Simucube’s development even if they never get to race on their pedals: Other manufacturers are not going to want to be left behind and pour their own research into pedals with active feedback. A similar thing happened with direct drive wheel bases only recently: While it was unaffordable to most SimRacers to own one just five years ago, competition has seen many new names enter the DD wheel base game, and prices have fallen accordingly.

While patience will be needed for these developments, it is likely that in the end, pedals with active feedback are going to be available at a much more affordable price. The upcoming years should be exciting in this regard with how the different manufacturers are going to put their own spin on pedals.