The high-tech world of video games continues to evolve with amazing new developments. In fact, the startup company Anki has now found ways to employ high-tech control mechanisms within small cars that you can actually maneuver right on the floor in front of you.           

One recent news story says that this startup company “spawned from the Robotics Institute of Carnegie Mellon University . . . [will soon] be bringing support for its artificial intelligence-driven real-life racing game, called Anki Drive, to Google's Android OS,” along with many new features and platform updates.                                                                                         

Boris Sofman, a key creative genius (and co-founder) of Anki, presented this product to the large audience that attended Apple’s 2013 Worldwide Developer’s Conference (WWDC). Although he was initially unsure how the audience would respond to his play cars racing around on a track laid down on the WWDC stage, Sofman was thrilled when his presentation garnered “rapturous applause.” Sofman and his company were recently profiled in the “Innovators” section of Entrepreneur’s September 2014 magazine.                                                  

What’s So Unique about Sofman’s New Toy Vehicles?

  • Each car actually drives itself, thanks to a company app that coordinates the entire activity. As Sofman told the WWDC audience, “The cars can control their speed, and they steer [themselves] around the track . . . [We have taken] all the things we love about video games and program[med] them onto physical characters that you can actually touch;”
  • Each Anki vehicle “integrates a 50 MHz computer, camera, wireless chip, infrared light and two electric motors, one in each rear tire.” The Anki engineers have made it possible for these cars to drive themselves regardless of whether a human being or the vehicle’s AI (artificial intelligence) is in control. What’s truly amazing is that “the toy gathers and analyzes binary track information at a rate of 500 times per second . . .[relaying this information to] the host iPhone or iPad;”
  • It took the creators of the Anki vehicles five full years to develop and perfect their toy cars’ platform.  Interested consumers who initially purchased an Anki Drive starter kit had to pay about $200. However, the company’s success is now allowing it to drop some of its prices. Not only does this game allow a number of different players to interact with the cars on the racetrack mat on the floor in front of them, the vehicles are actually able to improve “their” own game. In other words, the AI (artificial intelligence) can actually learn and evolve based upon the number of times each vehicle is used or played with on the track.

Anki is definitely a high-tech company that’s raising the bar for its competitors. As Sofman puts it, “From the very beginning, it was not just about race cars. Anki’s about a platform for programming physical characters with emotion and personality.”                             There is so much interest in Anki and its futuristic understanding of putting artificial intelligence to use in other products that venture capitalists have already sunk roughly $50 million into this company.

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