The slot car is the classic holiday gift, but it’s a little difficult not to view them as somewhat dated. And there aren’t many kids who wind up using them after the batteries die, or they realize that basically nothing’s going to happen. Anki DRIVE is looking to change that with the first “real world” video game you use your iDevice to play.
Man Against Machine
The game itself is pleasingly tactile in many ways. First, you lay down the play mat, which is essentially the course you’ll be racing up to four cars around. Then you arrange the cars themselves on the mat; unlike slot cars, you can place the vehicles pretty much anywhere. The cars will uses sensors and your iPhone’s brain to stay on the track.
Then, you race for points to upgrade your car. And it just gets more elaborate from there.
Upgrading your vehicle will give you new offensive and defensive capabilities, ranging from the ever-useful railguns to get into first place to the ever-useful shields to keep from being blasted off the track by railguns. Furthermore, as you race around the track, your AI opponents will learn from your past behavior and fight back accordingly; how you play ten races from now will be completely different from your first race.
Robotics At Its Best
Anki is a company looking to bring artificial intelligence, learning computers and robots more into our everyday lives, and this is their first product. And it’s a particularly compelling product, but buying the future of slot cars isn’t going to come cheaply; you’ll need to spend $200 for the starter kit, which comes with the cars, charger and mat
Dan Seitz is an obsessive nerd living in New England. He lives in the Boston area with a fiancee, a dog, a cat, and far too many objects with processors.