Table top racing has long been the territory of slot car racers, Scalectrix being the brand that kid’s years ago dreamed of. Now Anki’s DRIVE is changing table top racing forever, combining miniature AI controlled RC cars with a vinyl track and a dash of video game action. This is slot car racing taken to 11, the next gen slot cars without the slot and with a whole heap more action.
This week Anki started the marketing machine rolling with the build up to the DRIVE Battle Grand Prix. Packs have been sent out to RSVP invited competitors. 9 of YouTube’s most popular personalities have lined up to race so you can bet the Battle with be fierce, and covered from every angle. October 4 has been locked in as the day of the battle, vinyl death tracks have already been laid out.
In early September Anki announced that the DRIVE application will be appearing on Android and a new car called Spektrix would be released, both in October. Will we see the stars align with the Battle Grand Prix played on Samsung Android hardware? Samsung’s latest handsets are the first to be tested with the new app (requires KitKat 4.3 or later). Other handsets are expected to join the race in coming months. And who will be driving Spektrix?
Driving the cars is mix of slot car racing, RC and a video game. The Anki AI systems takes care of the car control leaving players to worry about speed and firing weapons, lots and lots of weapons. As with most driving video games each of the cars has their own personality, weapons and upgrades that evolve as you play through and build up experience points. The coolest aspect though is that the weapons have a real impact on competitor’s cars, slowing them down or giving them the spins.
Anki as a company emerged out of the Carnegie Mellon Universities Robotics Institute. They officially become a company in 2010 with an idea of creating artificially intelligent robotic gaming systems. The technology driving Anki’s cars around the track is incredibly impressive, based on the advanced AI technology developed in-house.
Anki is pushing hard to make Drive a brand synonymous with table top racing and buckets of fun. A name that everyone recognizes and associates with a new generation of racing very small cars. With $55 million in the bank from funding led by J.P. Morgan along with new marketing talent you can bet the Christmas push is on for Anki.
DRIVE is available now in the US, Canada and the UK from Apple stores, Best Buy, Amazon and Gamestop. The Starter Kit DRIVE pack costs $149.99 USD, extra cars and expansion tracks are also available.