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Anki DRIVE Remote Control AI Race Cars Are on Sale Today and They Are Amazing

This is the least terrifying and most adorable—and fun—AI we've ever seen.

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Anki’s vision of bringing video games into the real world using sophisticated AI is realized today with the release of Anki DRIVE. The little cars are controlled by AI and remote control from your iOS device and are now available at Apple stores in a 2 car bundle for $199. Additional cars are $69.

These cars had their first demo at Apple’s World Wide Developers Conference in June, and the technology involved is seriously impressive. They run on a portable mat with a track and sensors that will remind you of a Hot Wheels racing track. However, battling the AI controlled cars is where the real leap forward in entertainment value comes from.

Basically, the cars behave similarly to what you’d expect from AI opponents in racing video games as they receive data on their position on the track and react accordingly to other cars. They can even try to box you out and prevent you from passing. It’s like watching a game of Mario Kart played out on your living room floor.

Speaking of Mario Kart, the conditions of the race can be remotely adjusted from the app, which allows the cars to use virtual weapons on each other. The app will detect whether or not a car was hit and cause it to spin out. The cars’ stats can also be adjusted with things like defense and increased speed, which will change the real-life behavior of the cars.

It’s an extremely solid advancement in improving interaction between people and technology that really extends the value of a miniature race car set. We can’t wait to see other ideas follow this same model to give us video games we can reach out and touch.

(via The Next Web, image via Anki)

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Dan Van Winkle (he) is an editor and manager who has been working in digital media since 2013, first at now-defunct Geekosystem (RIP), and then at The Mary Sue starting in 2014, specializing in gaming, science, and technology. Outside of his professional experience, he has been active in video game modding and development as a hobby for many years. He lives in North Carolina with Lisa Brown (his wife) and Liz Lemon (their dog), both of whom are the best, and you will regret challenging him at Smash Bros.