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Anki Drive

Robotic, artificial intelligence and video games meet the real world in this iOS-driven racing game

by Hans Aschim in Tech on 17 October 2013

anki-drive-1.jpg

Video games, by nature, have always existed in the virtual world. While no less real or engaging to players, gaming has largely been contained to screens—at least until now. Anki Drive fuses robotics, artificial intelligence and video game styling and narrative into a real world game. Using an iOS app, players choose a character (in this case a car) that corresponds with a real, hold-it-in-your-hand piece of equipment. The cars operate on a smart track that appears flat but contains boundaries that the cars recognize. Play with your friends or challenge the seemingly impossible to beat (when set to hard mode) artificial intelligence. The game integrates both racing and battling, with upgrades and add-ons available—and when you earn upgrade points, your car can physically get faster or make tighter turns. This is one of the major differences between Anki and traditional video games or physical games: The entire thing is completely upgradeable, not only in the virtual sense but also in the physical sense.

While testing the system with Anki founder Boris Sofman, our game got competitive quickly with Sofman sending our car off the track more times than we could count. "With Anki, we really wanted to bring advanced robotics and artificial intelligence into the consumer market," he said, "These technologies transcend product categories and bring a previously unattainable level of intelligence and purpose to the physical world."

Anki Drive is available with two cars and a track online and at Apple's web and retail stores in North America for $200, starting 23 October.

Images courtesy of Anki Drive

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