Virtual reality roller coaster ‘The Great Lego Race’ opens in Florida

It should come as no surprise that amusement parks have embraced virtual reality technology in a big way, adding another layer of “thrill” to their rides. But The Great Lego Race Coaster, which just opened at Legoland Florida, may be the most ambitious and amazing VR roller coaster yet.

Previously known as Project X, the roller coaster is unchanged, but the VR veneer drops riders into a wacky and colorful race reminiscent of a Mario Kart game. “The Great Lego Race was inspired by the way kids play with Lego toys at home,” Candy Holland of Legoland said to Attractions Magazine. “It’s a unique Lego adventure that lets kids enter an epic, imaginary would made entirely from Lego bricks, featuring a host of different themes and fun Lego characters all mixed up together.”

“What we did is painstakingly map out every inch of this roller coaster,” Keith Carr of Legoland told the Orlando Sentinel. “What you feel and what you see are actually in sync with each other. That’s what makes the virtual reality work. What we wanted to do was take and enhance the drops and take and enhance the turns, and that’s what the VR allows us to do.”

The VR headsets — adorned with googly Lego minifig eyes — are optional and you can ride in “reality mode” if you want, but why would you do that?

The ride begins with an intro video showcasing a wizard, surfer, pirate, pharaoh, and other racers and characters you’ll encounter. You’ll also get instructions on attaching the VR headset, which is cleaned before each use. The coaster is catered to children under 12, so don’t expect any inversions or high-speed helix turns.

Once strapped into your four-person go-kart, the race twists and turns through a variety of detailed Lego landscaped, smashing through walls and taking unexpected detours. The action takes place all around you in a full 360-degree view, so you can look behind you and see the destruction you’ve caused.

For an at-home preview of The Great Lego Race, as well as other cool theme parks around the world, you can download MackMedia’s Coastiality mobile app for Android, iOS, and Oculus.

Emerging Tech

A.I.-generated text is supercharging fake news. This is how we fight back

A new A.I. tool is reportedly able to spot passages of text written by algorithm. Here's why similar systems might prove essential in a world of fake news created by smart machines.
Product Review

The new iPad Mini certainly isn’t a beauty, but it performs like a beast

Apple’s new iPad Mini has beastly performance, fluid iOS 12 software, and good battery life. It also looks like it came straight out of 2015, because the design hasn’t been changed. Here are our impressions of Apple’s new 7.9-inch…
Emerging Tech

Racing to catch a flight? Robot valet at French airport will park your car

Hate searching for parking at the airport when you need to catch a plane? Startup Stanley Robotics recently unveiled a new outdoor automated robotic valet system. Here's how it works.
Movies & TV

The best shows on Netflix right now (March 2019)

Looking for a new show to binge? Lucky for you, we've curated a list of the best shows on Netflix, whether you're a fan of outlandish anime, dramatic period pieces, or shows that leave you questioning what lies beyond.
Gaming

Make some room in your backlog. Here are all the games to look out for in 2019

2019 is already a huge year for video games, with a large number of series getting new installments, including some that have been dormant for years. Brand new franchises are also being created.
Emerging Tech

Robot assistants from Toyota and Panasonic gear up for the Tokyo Olympics

Japan plans to use the 2020 Olympics to showcase a range of its advanced technologies. Toyota and Panasonic are already getting in on the act, recently unveiling several robotic designs that they intend to deploy at the event.
Computing

At $99, Nvidia’s Jetson Nano minicomputer seeks to bring robotics to the masses

Nvidia announced a new A.I. computer, the Jetson Nano. This computer comes with an 128-core GPU that Nvidia claims can handle pretty much any A.I. framework you could imagine. At $99, it's an affordable way for A.I. newbies to get involved.
Business

Bags with brains: Smart luggage and gadgets are making travel smoother

The bag you use to tote your stuff can affect the experience of any trip. In response, suitcases are wising up, and there are now options for smart luggage with scales, tracking, and more. Here are our favorite pieces.
Computing

Nvidia’s A.I. Playground lets you edit photos, experience deep learning research

Nvidia is making it easier to access information on deep learning research. It has launched an online space with three demos for image editing, styling, as well as photorealistic image synthesis. 
Business

British Airways’ new Club Suite for business class comes with a door

British Airways is going after a bigger slice of the business class market with the imminent launch of the Club Suite. The plush seating option offers a more private space as well as an easier route to the bathroom.
Smart Home

Sony’s Aibo robot dog can now patrol your home for persons of interest

Sony released the all-new Aibo in the U.S. around nine months ago, and since then the robot dog has (hopefully) been melting owners' hearts with its cute looks and clever tricks. Now it has a new one up its sleeve.
Emerging Tech

Inflating smart pills could be a painless alternative to injections

Could an inflating pill containing hidden microneedles replace painful injections? The creators of the RaniPill robotic capsule think so — and they have the human trials to prove it.
Emerging Tech

The U.S. Army is building a giant VR battlefield to train soldiers virtually

Imagine if the U.S. Army was able to rehearse battlezone scenarios dozens, or even hundreds, or times before settling foot on actual terrain. Thanks to virtual reality, that's now a possibility.
Emerging Tech

A silver bullet is being aimed at the drug-resistant superbugs on the ISS

A bacteria which is benign here on Earth can mutate into a drug-resistant superbug once it enters space. Now this problem is being tackled by a team of microbiologists who have found a way to inhibit the spread of bacteria in the ISS.