Feeds

Man+iPhone versus artificial intelligence: Anki robot racer slot cars

Ladies and gents (boys and girls), start your engines

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

Anki, the racing toy maker clipped together by a band of robotics boffins, will begin selling its iDevice-controlled slot car set Anki Drive in just over five days’ time.

It has apparently taken them six years to create this 21st Century version of that old favourite, Scalextric.

AnkiDrive

In pole position for release on 23 October is the AnkiDrive Starter Kit, which comprises a 2.6m x 1.1m track mat, a couple of futuristic, Speedracer-style racing car “characters” and gadgets to charge their built-in batteries. The set is set to retail in the US for $200 (£125).

Two more cars will be sold separately, and it’s not hard to foresee plenty more appearing in due course to encourage 10-year-olds to nag their parents for more. Extra cars cost $69 (£43) a pop.

Naturally in the era of the smartphone old-style hand controllers are out, replaced by an iPhone or iPod Touch.

Anki’s offering is by no means the first toy controlled by smartphone. The Sphero has been out for a while, Parrott’s AR.drone quadcopter longer still, and there are plenty of those wee, easily broken, fly-for-a-minute-or-two helicopters out there that are app-controlled.

Anki’s unique selling points, then, are its intelligent software and the videogame quality it brings to the track. Cars, for example, have weapons and kit to shove aside their competitors – all of these are implemented virtually. One car’s lights flash, and the AnkiDrive's "artificial intellegence" software adjusts the behaviour of the car in front automatically. Over time, the vehicles "learn" to compete with their rivals more effectively. "We’ve programmed those cars to become characters that interact with each other and evolve over time," says co-founder Mark Palatucci on Anki's website.

Youtube Video

Anki reckons the physicality of real toy cars will bring a joy to players no mere digital representation can. Equally, the virtual component that app control brings means the toy taps straight into kids’ videogame experience.

Car location data comes from hidden codes imprinted on the track, read by a camera in each vehicle. Cars communicate with controllers over Bluetooth.

Post-race points are assigned to players. Points can be spent on virtual upgrades – shields, tractor beams, gravity beams, that kind of thing – which are stored on flash in the cars themselves to make it easier for nippers to take their prize racers around to chums' houses for races.

Anki will initially pitch AnkiDrive at youngsters in the US. There’s no word yet on UK availability. ®

Boost IT visibility and business value

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
iPhone 6 flip tip slips in Aussie's clip: Apple's 'reversible USB' leaks
New plug not compatible with official Type-C, according to fresh rumors
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
NVIDIA claims first 64-bit ARMv8 SoC for Androids
Mile-High 'Denver' Tegra K1 successor said to rival PC performance
prev story

Whitepapers

5 things you didn’t know about cloud backup
IT departments are embracing cloud backup, but there’s a lot you need to know before choosing a service provider. Learn all the critical things you need to know.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.