It was in summer 2015, i saw a video on youtube about a car track!?And no it wasn’t a car track like carrera, like we children already are playing with since the last 30 years :-)This track looks very stylish with cool cars and it seems like these cars don’t need any rails to drive, and i couldn’t see any cables anywhere…So how that can be possible???Then much later i found out that this track combined a carrera track with a video game!And the cars are little mini computers with equally small personalities.This idea sounds pretty cool.
Every vehicle has a microchip, sensors, a high performance battery and a bluetooth connection.Reflectors are integrated in the track, there are no lanes!500 times in one second the cars are scanning their position on the track.They know exactly to the millimeter where they and their competitors are on the track.Just place them on the track and they drive, fast and autonom.
And now comes the interesting part: The racing vehicles are controlled with a smartphone or tablet, and the players control them with an app for Android or iOS.
The program is the artifical intelligence of the cars.It identifies the vehicles on the track, the player select and controls his car.He an control the speed with a slider and when changing the direction from the phone or tablet, he changes the direction from the car.However the race is decided with little nasty tricks, in other words you can also shoot your opponent.But there are no objects flying around, but depending on the weapon, the driver must be in close proximity, behind or next to his opponent.Just like in a Video Game, the futuristic cars can steal energy from each other or pull them with a trctor beam, paralyze it with a electric shock for a short time or even throw it off the track.All the weapons and special attacks are noticeable with vibrations and fire noises from the smartphone.
The cars as well they have cool motor sounds and squeaky tires and when it comes to the final rounds beat is pumping faster.The driver with the most skillful maneuvers wins – either by laps or points.The Software awards points for every successful action if the player reached more of them, then he rewards new equipment like weapons and skills for his car.For example with the ability to turn swiftly in the opposite direction and thus avoid an attack.Or on a straight line with a turbo to drive away all others and their weapons.
Tuning, upgrading, new equipment and this pressure to get more and more goodies through even more points.Those of us they’re playing on PC or console “Need for Speed” “Mario Kart” or “Trackmania”, they will understand and love Anki Overdrive immediately.This is the next level for the good old carrera fans.Anki Overdrive isn’t only racing, it’s a battle in every round.Staying on the track is up to the cars, tricking the opponent with technical finesse and winning is entirely in the hands of the players.
But the company Anki took another step foreward…
One year later, Anki’s newest product came on the market, a small toy robot in the form of a mini bulldozer and a tiny monitor as a face.A small learning robot, the longer it is used, the more it develops its own personality and even after a certain time he was able to recognize the face of its owner, its name and the primary facial expressions.The longer you interacted with Cozmo and played with him, his character developed and more games were unlocked.The robot remember the games you played and ask if you want to play them again.It’s included small cubes with which you can play together with Cozmo.The little robot can also get angry and loudly communicates its frustration in a funny way.
To control Cozmo, you need your smartphone, which functions as a data center, just like for Anki’s car racing track.
The battery life of the small robot is about two hours, after which it has to be returned to the charging station, where the robot lies down to snore again.And yes, he really snores while he is charging :-). Since the battery is fully charged within ten minutes, Cozmo has to be satisfied with a Powernap.
Anki provides an open source SDK for his Cozmo, with which developers can also experiment with the robot and teach it new tricks. Cozmo can be programmed via SDK with Python.
And of course it had to be developed further.
Anki wanted to take another step forward with a further developed robot named Vector, which was almost identical in design to Cozmo, but…
But in April 2019, the Anki company went surprisingly bankrupt.
Shutdown, the lights went off at the San Francisco tech company within a week.
And then in January 2020, Digital Dream Labs announced, it has acquired Anki Robotics and Artificial Intelligence assets without taking on any liabilities, effective immediately.
“The opportunity to acquire exclusive ownership of Cozmo, Vector, and Overdrive fit perfectly into our mission and purpose driven culture,” says Matt Goren, Chief Marketing Officer at Digital Dream Labs. “We plan to change the current narrative of Robotics and Artificial Intelligence, giving a voice to our customers, while relaunching Cozmo, Vector, and Overdrive with updates and new features on the way. Our narrative will be focused on being honest and realistic about what our products can do now, but more importantly, what we have planned, and what is possible in this thrilling decade of the 2020’s.”
Digital Dream Labs develops a mix of entertaining games and education.The company currently offers games that teach:Coding, math, art and chemistry.Their games are already in more than 3000 school districts.Digital Dream Labs recently announced their partnership on numerous projects, including a game for youth and integrating Robotics and A.I with the music industry, with a music and recording production group consisting of: Ali LaFlare, Chordz 3d, K Stew, and Lou who have worked with Bruno Mars, Snoop Dogg, Wiz Khalifa, and many other recording artists.
These are very good news and there is hope for Anki Overdrive, Cozmo and Vector.
Good things need time!
© Copyright 2022 by Sebas Kampfmann