We've been itching to get our hands on the Anki Drive system -- a system of smartphone-controlled cars -- since it was unveiled at Apple's WWDC. Now that it has finally rolled in, it feels like Christmas morning at iFixit, with itty bitty plastic cars zipping overland and underfoot.
But as much as we'd like to keep reenacting our favorite scenes from The Fast and the Furious films, it's time to find out what lies under those tiny robotic hoods.
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The Anki Drive system of smartphone-controlled cars uses a specialty mat developed by Anki, a tech startup aiming to bring artificial intelligence and adaptability to objects in the physical world. This is its first offering.
This is great. I still think they could have done more processing on the car, but that's just me. We used to have slot cars of various sizes. Customization was always fun. We would put more powerful motors, better, wider, stickier tires, etc. I expect you could do a lot with these as well. I like that they use light to help control the cars.
Interesting, clever steering, and that would explain the apparent unequal front to rear weight ratio I sensed and wondered about right away. I wonder if it wouldn't be a racing advantage to have the rear wheels clean, but the front ones dirty?
I wonder how it will handle crashes. What kid doesn't want to crash at the highest speed possible, over and over?! Or make this a demo derby or push-off-the-mat race?
Wondering too why it needs position speed data from the mat. Will it run when off the mat?
Just a bit of info about the app that runs this would have been nice.
More processing in the car would both inhibit development and increase battery drain, and probably reduce performance as well. It looks like they have the mix down quite well right now.
And I think how much advanced this thing is over those slotcars, except that they had way more power.
Differential drive steering requires feedback from some source, so they had to put tracks on the pad. But that also leaves the path clear for a lot more sophisticated programming as far as paths go, and also allows a means of avoiding collisions. Those kids who like to smash and crash toys like this fuly deserve to be frustrated and to have the toys totally destruct on the first intentional crash. And since it is constantly detecting it's position, it should be able to shut down if it runs off the pad, which is good for not getting lost.
Probably any change to the front wheels friction would alter the handling a bit. My guess is that those front wheels slide easily but also roll easily.
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