Anki Drive: iPhone-controlled, weaponized cars with killer AI

Credit: Anki

Slot-car racing games aren't just for little kids anymore, especially if your cars look as good as Anki Drive's iPhone-compatible models. Faster, smarter and sleeker than your familiar, old school Hot Wheels, each one of Anki Drive's tiny artificially-intelligent mini motors put traditional toy race cars to shame.

Created by a start-up team of three Carnegie Mellon-educated video game geeks, Anki Drive is Anki's first product that can be fully controlled via a special iOS app. Anki means "learn by heart" in Japanese, a phrase that inspired the programming of Anki Drive's adaptable AI. Each vehicle learns how to outrace another car with every match.

Every three piece Anki Drive kit comes with a track mat, a car and the iOS app and can be set up in seconds. The underside of the large 102-inch by 42-inch wide red and black Tron-esque race car mat is coated with a positional code-infused ink that helps each Anki car know where it is in relation to the track and to other cars.

A tiny camera installed under the Anki cars read the codes as the car speeds along while a Bluetooth LE radio connects the car to your iOS app. The cars also contain components like a 50Mhz microprocessor, motors, power button, rechargeable battery and multicolor LED for status updates. The Anki cars check their relative position 500 times per second for a super-fast strategical turnaround to best an opponent. Anki Drive cars can be recharged via a portable, protective, stylish power pod.

Super-powered Weapons For Maximum Damage

Plus, for an added awesome factor, the Anki Drives ctually have "weapons," support items and abilities to help them gain an advantage over their opponents. These include machine guns, rail guns, and tractor beams that cause the car to light up and produce sound effects when fired, and might temporarily stop your opponent from racing. Abilities include reflective and inductive shields, bean disruptors and agility increases, all which can be upgraded the more you play and race with your cars.

Anki Drive cars also have their own cool names: Rho, Kourai, Katal and Boson, and two different classifications: Striker and Defense. They come in red, yellow, blue and silver, respectively, though the $199 starter kit, slated for release on October 23, comes with the "Kourai" and "Boson" already packaged in, with the blue "Katal" and red "Rho" available for $69 each.

It's one expensive toy set, though the fact that the cars were designed by Harald Belker, the guy responsible for the 1996 Batmobile and the vehicles in Tron: Legacy and Minority Report might take off the sting a bit.

Anki, via The Verge

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