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AnkiDrive promises to bring video games to the real world

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Before showing off its own projects during WWDC 2013, Apple brought out a startup developer with a game nearly half a decade in the making. The company, Anki, may have gotten lost on its way to E3 but showed off its autonomous racing game on the WWDC 2013 stage.

Channeling the old pin-track/slot car racing games you may have played as a kid, AnkiDrive uses robotic cars powered by AI that is delivered via Bluetooth from an iOS device and lets them race around the track and compete with one another. Anki’s co-founder stated “We’re using iOS devices not just as remote controls, but as the brains behind autonomous devices.”

Aside from just racing to see who finishes first, AnkiDrive aims to be “a video game in the real world” as it supports weapon use with the cars so players an AI can fight their way to the finish line. The game will allow players to use their iOS device as a remote and take control of the cars yourself. You can play against friends or take on the AI to see how well you can compete. The app for AnkiDrive is available today.

Of course, controlling the speed, location, and movements of a car remotely using smart computers probably perked up the ears of car and tech industry types trying to solve the riddle of autonomous driving. Scaled up, it’s easy to see how pumped-up computers and refined AI could control cars on a much larger track – say, the grid of a city. Is AnkiDrive a peek at the future of autonomous driving? Only time will tell, but if this technology takes off in the gaming world, with generations of refinement it could find it’s way into the real world as well.