First introduced at WWDC, Anki’s iOS-controlled AI-based racing game is set to debut later this month — Unlike standard racing toys, Anki Drive is largely self-operating and is described by the company as a “video game in the real world.” The concept is similar to slot car racing, with added enhancements that include artificial intelligence, machine learning, and smartphone-based controls.
Video games have long had computer-controlled players. They’re the bots you shoot, dribble around, or race against. But they existed solely in the digital world. Anki brings this artificial intelligence into the meatspace through robotics. At first, that will make for fun games. You race an RC car against artificially (or actually) intelligent opponent who can try to block you from passing them — using the same algorithmic calculations a human brain makes while driving.
In the future, Anki won’t just be a toy, though. Perhaps it will let robots dodge human workers in factories, or keep mechanized assistants from tripping over your feet within the home? There are more phone-controlled IRL Anki products to come. Thus far, no one’s disclosing more details.
“It’s extraordinarily sophisticated software,” said investor Marc Andreessen in a phone interview this morning, “and closer to the Google Self-Driving car than anything else. And really fast. We think it points to the direction of the future, bringing AI into the living room.”
From their blog
At first glance, it’s a racing game that pits real cars against players and each other – but after playing for a few minutes, you’ll see what makes Anki Drive special: We are making the first video games in the real world, and our team has worked tirelessly on the robotics and AI challenges that this presents.
Each car is equipped with sensors and intelligent software to make thousands of decisions every second. We use mobile devices not as remote controls, but as drivers for an immersive real-world experience. And we took great care to make sure that despite everything under the hood, the final experience is intuitive and entertaining.”