Robotics and AI firm Anki wants to bring video games to the real world

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    Robotics and AI firm Anki wants to bring video games to the real world



    During Apple's WWDC 2013 keynote on Monday, artificial intelligence and robotics firm Anki showed off a toy/video game hybrid that leverages the power of iOS and Apple's mobile devices to run a number of small, autonomous cars around a track.

    The demo, which took place near the start of Apple's keynote, involved four tiny remote control cars, each communicating with an iOS device over Bluetooth LE to drive around a miniature race track. While seemingly pedestrian, the small vehicles were actually driving themselves using technology called Anki Drive.

    According to Anki cofounder and CEO Boris Sofman, the cars and the software driving them are the result of five years of research and development. While Sofman failed to go in-depth on the AI tech running on iOS, he did briefly describe the hardware.

    The cars are crammed with sensors and, presumably, a processor capable of digesting data and executing decisions pertaining to speed, direction and more. By taking samples thousands of times each second, the cars are capable of zipping around the supplied track at impressively quick speeds.

    Sofman said during the presentation that the cars react to their surroundings in real time, and showed off the capability by having one car zoom around the track faster than the other three, evading crashes and hugging corners as if choreographed. Adding another wrinkle to the demo, the three pace cars were reprogrammed on the fly to actively try and block the fast-moving fourth car.

    The ensuing exchange played out like a game of cat and mouse, with the fourth "hero" car attempting to pass the other three without crashing. Finally, Sofman introduced a game element that was up to that point missing from the display: weapons. Although not "real," the iOS device "armed" the hero car with guns that shot the other three vehicles off the track. Nothing physical was fired, but the cars reacted as though they had been hit when passing by the fourth car's line-of-sight.

    There was one point in the presentation where the cars had to be reset, but that didn't detract from the promise shown by the AI system once it got going.

    The Anki Drive app is available now in the App Store as an introduction to the technology and forthcoming game. Once the cars are launched this fall, with an expected price somewhere around $200, the app will transform into a controller.







    6-11-13

    appleinsider.com

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    Just watched the WWDC Keynote where these guys demoed their Anki Drive......absolutely fantastic....I want one!!
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    Endorsed by Tim Cook at WWDC, Anki Drive likely to launch this month




    With Apple CEO Tim Cook’s endorsement, Anki, a company with artificial intelligence and robots-based products, debuted Anki Drive at WWDC earlier this year. Anki Drive is a car game for iOS that connects to physical cars. The app is currently available via the App Store while the cars and mat system will be available via retail channels…

    The demo from Apple’s 2013 Worldwide Developers Conference can be seen above. At the event, the creators of the product said that it would ship this fall. Today, we’ve learned that the company plans to make Anki Drive available in both Apple Retail Stores and Apple’s Online Store as soon as this month.

    Of course, the debut could be delayed for several reasons, but October is the current launch plan. A spokesperson for Anki declined to comment.





    10-4-13

    9to5mac.com

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    Anki Drive AI-Controlled Cars Will Be Available on October 23 for $199




    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.

    The Anki cars are placed on a specially designed vinyl track and connect to an iPhone with Bluetooth-LE. Using software and tiny cameras, the cars calibrate their positions on the track and handle steering on their own. Players control the gas and the guns using an iPhone and the Anki Drive app, shooting at other cars on the track to score the highest number of hits.

    Hits translate to points, and points can be used to both upgrade cars and weapons. Each of the Anki Drive cars has its own unique name, personality, and statistics, with some offering greater acceleration speeds while others have more energy. Engadget went hands-on with the Anki Drive and has a description of the gameplay:

    As soon as you're done, you can simply set the cars on the track and away they'll zoom; there's no need for you to hit an accelerate button at all. Indeed, the cars will even know just where to turn. We wanted to see if we could mess it up, so we picked up a car and turned it the other way around to see what would happen. The answer: It just flipped around and went back on the right direction.

    So if the cars can drive themselves, what do they need you for? Well, you can affect the race by tilting the phone either left or right to force it to make a wider or sharper turn. There are also special weapons you can deploy if you’re in a competition – a couple of starter ones include a tractor beam to slow down an opponent and a gun that you can use to mow them down afterward.

    Anki Drive has several different gameplay modes, including a multiplayer mode that allows several players to compete against one another and a single player mode where one of the cars is controlled through AI. Each of the Anki Drive cars has its own name, personality, and statistics, with some offering greater acceleration speeds while others have more energy. No car can be fully upgraded to match the others, which makes each one unique.




    Anki Drive will be available in the United States and Canada on Apple’s website and in retail stores beginning on October 23. Each bundle, which includes two cars, chargers, and a race track, retails for $199. Two additional cars can be purchased for $69 each.





    10-17-13

    www.macrumors.com

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    'Anki Drive' Robotic Car Game Now Available at Apple's Online and Retail Stores

    The Anki Drive game first demonstrated during Apple's WWDC keynote address in June is now available exclusively on the Apple Online Store and at Apple's retail outlets, in line with last week's announcement.

    The game, described by Anki as a "video game in the real world", is somewhat similar to slot car racing, but uses artificial intelligence, machine learning, and iPhone-based controls.



    The Anki Drive starter kit includes the vinyl "track" and two cars for $200. Two additional cars are available for $70 each, the red RHO, and the blue and gold KATAL.

    Each Anki Drive car has its own unique name, personality, and statistics, with some offering greater acceleration speeds while others having more energy. There are multiple gameplay modes, including multiplayer and single player modes, with cars lacking a human controller using a proprietary AI system.

    Anki will also be holding a series of special events at prominent Apple Retail Store locations around North America over the next few weeks, hitting San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston, and Montreal.




    The Anki Drive app can be downloaded from the App Store for free.





    10-23-13

    www.macrumors.com

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    Anki Drive iOS app updated with new car upgrades, customization options



    Anki Drive got the ultimate endorsement last summer when Apple allowed the company to demonstrate its product on stage at its WWDC conference. For those unfamiliar, Anki Drive is a platform that allows hardware cars to be raced around a track and controlled wirelessly with an iOS device. Today, the company updated its iOS app with a host of new features, upgrades, and customization options. With today’s update, players can now take advantage of 20 new upgrade options, in addition to be able to further customize their car.



    One of the coolest new features in this update is the ability for the drivers to exchange upgrades on their car. Another new option is available to store upgrades in an “Armory” for use later on.

    The Anki Drive app is available on the App Store, although the Anki Drive Starter Kit is required for the app to have any sort of functionality.


    The full change log is below:

    Expanded upgrade system - Enter the Garage and customize the new Combat, Chassis, Engine, and Energy Systems. Choose your path, buy & sell upgrades, and level up!

    New weapons and support items - Arm yourself with the all new EMP, Reverse Drive, Horn, and Kinetic Brake. Remember: swipe left & right on the triggers during gameplay to switch weapons.

    The Armory has moved - Each vehicle now has it’s own set of Weapons and Support Items. Configure them via the Armory in the Garage.

    Earn bounties - Earn greater rewards for defeating stronger opponents. The higher a vehicle’s Level, the more bounty you earn for defeating it!

    Vehicle software updates - Once updated, vehicles can use the new Upgrade Systems. All existing purchases have been refunded, and you’ll get even more points for each vehicle you update in the Garage.

    Smarter AI - Think you can beat the AI on hard? We sure don’t… especially with our recent improvements. It’s smarter than ever. Think you’ve got what it takes?

    Improvements throughout the game - Enhancements and fixes make it even more fun to play.





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