True fact: Mario Kart will always be one of the best Nintendo 64 games of all time. It’s just not disputable. It’s so awesome that a bunch of robotics nerds at Austin-based Waterloo Labs decided to outfit race karts with RFID tags so they could play real life Mario Kart. I know where I’m having my next birthday party.
The modded race karts run on a RFID Wi-Fi system that helps each player communicate with new items picked up and their usage over the air. During the race course, players could pick up power-up boxes suspended over the track and receive a randomized item. With RFID, the individual karts can read which item was picked up, and gives each kart a new ability to use any time the player desires.
When the players use their selected item, the race karts can recognize the actions of each power-up, such as accelerating the kart to 100 percent of its throttle power when a mushroom is used, spinning other karts and slowing their motors when they run into a banana, or temporarily induce brakes on all players at the use of a lightning bolt. We could only imagine the scene of an 8-person race when everyone is running away from the ever-ferocious Chomp.
In addition to power-ups, players can also physically launch attack items (such as green and red turtle shells) by stuffing the power-ups inside a cannon attached to their vehicles. Let’s hope the drivers go slow at this process, as it could get dangerous to drive fast while multi-tasking. Who knew Mario Kart would make such a complicated real-life game? All the lengthy and technical details, including the source code, are discussed at the Waterloo website, meaning you can build your own if you’re so inclined. But since we’re no technical geniuses (and are rather lazy), we’re just gonna sit here and wait for someone to figure out how to put this all in a nearby amusement park. It will be the best use of RFID general consumers have ever witnessed.
Watch the video below to see the Waterloo Labs real-life Mario Kart in action.