Anki Drive Brings Artificial Intelligence and Racing Games Into Physical Reality via iPhone

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We only know of a few ways one can play with a toy car - by holding it down with one’s hand, and moving it around to resemble realistic motion, making noises and stories along the way. Then we have video games, which use artificial intelligence (AI) to challenge you and the story is already there – however, here your opponents are virtual, and by definition less real.

If you want to actually take control of a car, an actual physical representation of it, then you’re stuck with either Radio Controlled (RC) or slot cars, both of which have their limitation. However, all of that can apparently be blended into one single experience, with the use of an iPhone and a downloadable app, as well as a mat with a representation of a short oval, and smart cars with sensors and Bluetooth connections.

That’s what fledgling company Anki is promising us, with their Anki Drive gaming system – if we could call it that… They use an app as a central brain, which can control one or more physical RC cars at a time, making them do all kinds of interesting things, like block faster cars, or drive in formation. Plans are to expand on the capabilities of what has been shown so far, but this seems like a fun way to pass time with a few friends, on all those rainy Tuesday afternoons when there’s nothing to do.

AI will definitely be the most intriguing part of the whole deal, and while users will be individually able to take control of each car, I’m pretty sure most would prefer to just “manage” the virtual driver, by adjusting the parameters by which it is racing, and watching the difference. If all of this still sounds a bit confusing, there are three videos below providing additional clarification.

By Andrei Nedelea

Story References: Gizmag

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