Produced by a consumer robotics and artificial intelligence startup named Anki, the Anki Drive is a 21st century version fo slot cars, known widely as the first video game programmed for play in the real world.
Released in Apple Stores in the US, Canada, and Apple.com on October 23, 2013 (for $199), the Anki Drive is a racing game that combines an iOS app (on your iPhone or iPad), and a physical race track and race cars. You roll out the track, place the cars on the track, and control the action from your iOS powered device.
Each car is made with optical sensors, motors, wireless chips and artificial intelligence software. These cars are smart, and analyze the environment around them, up to thousands of times each second. The race track is smart as well, with many sensors found within. These sensors communicate with the cars to let them know where they are on the track, and based on inputs by the user (from the iOS app), help the car navigate around each lap accurately.
While the cars run along the track on their own, users control the speed, lanes and weapons systems through the app. Participating in a race or battle earns user points which can be redeemed for additional systems like chassis or engine upgrades, or new weapons like a rail gun or EMP. There are currently six cars in the Anki Drive arsenal, each with a different look and special abilities. Three tracks are available for play as well.
Anki debuted the Anki Drive during the 2013 Apple Worldwide Developers Conference Keynote. Apple CEO Tim Cook turned the keynote over to Anki extremely early in the presentation, in hopes of showing what unknown developers can do with iOS.
With its company headquarters in San Francisco, company founders Boris Sofman, Mark Palatucci, and Hanns Tappeiner continue to work on Anki Drive and other consumer robotics products.