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At the September double iPhone keynote, Apple’s boss Tim Cook invited guys from Anki up on stage to show off their new innovative game-slash-accessory, Anki Drive, basically an iPhone-controlled system comprised of miniature self-driving cars that race around a vinyl race track.

The successful presentation wowed the audience and the robotics company said shortly after that Anki would launch later in October. And as of yesterday, the Anki Drive is available from the Apple Store for a cool $199…

According to a listing on the online U.S. Apple Store, each car in the Anki Drive robotic car racing kit scans the track 500 times a second using built-in sensors and advanced algorithms to determine its exact position, speed and trajectory.

They used machine learning and artificial intelligence to give each car a sense of its surroundings, so it knows where it is and what decisions to make.

“At real-world scale, these cars could drive 250MPH executing maneuvers within a tenth of an inch,” notes the blurb.

If you’re wondering why all the fuss, here’s a nice promo video.

In addition, you can control the cars yourself to race against friends or AI cars using a free iOS app, compatible with the iPhone 4S/5/5s/5c, fifth generation iPod touch, iPad 3 and 4, iPad Air, iPad mini and iPad mini with Retina display.

By earning points, you can make your car faster, be more agile or upgrade your weapons and shields.

Some of the Anki Drive’s highlights include:

• AI cars think and drive themselves
• Take control with your iPhone, iPod touch, or iPad mini
• Battle against the AI or have your friends join in with their own cars
• Earn points and customize your cars with new weapons and upgrades
• Each car has a unique play style and upgrades; find the one that fits you best
• You can add more cars and race with up to four people at the same time

The app-enabled accessory ships with two cars, your race track, a charger and tire cleaner. Additionally, the blue Katal and red RHO cars are available for separate purchase. It’s interesting that each car has its own personality, is equipped with unique skills and has its own set of weapons and defenses.

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The Anki Drive Starter Kit is available for $199.95 from the Anki website and Apple retail and online stores in the United States and Canada with free shipping or same-day in-store pickup.

Anki announced a series of special events at Apple’s brick and mortar stores in San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Boston and Montreal to give customers first-hand experience and a chance to play the game themselves.

By the way, repair wizards over at iFixit have torn apart the cars so hop over to their website to take a peek at the innards of the Anki Drive.

  • chumawumba

    Rip off

    • iThinkergoiMac

      And I supposed you’d care to develop this whole thing at a more reasonable price?

  • Tom

    Don’t you think that it’s just a bit overpriced?

    • iThinkergoiMac

      Why exactly do you think it’s overpriced? I’m not getting one, but I’m not at all surprised by the price.

      • Sean Clark

        I fully agree. Out of curiosity I just looked at slot cars on Toys r us and they ranged from $66-330 and the average set was a little over $100. They don’t have any sensors, AI, or an open track. So much is going on with this product that I expect it took a lot of work to bring it down to the $200 price tag.

  • Jonathan

    I’ll just buy the old school race tracks, thanks.

  • Josh

    It was actually at WWDC in June, not the September iPhone Keynote.

  • Nick Chambers

    “At real-world scale, these cars could drive 250MPH executing maneuvers within a tenth of an inch,”

    This is just ridiculous. If you are going to scale up speed, you can’t scale down distance. Let’s say these cars are going 25 MPH (i’m sure they’re not, but for simplicity sake). If the car is 10x bigger, they are going 250 scale MPH. So if they get within 1/10th of an inch at real world scale, that means they are getting within 1/100th of an inch at the small scale. Yeah right.

  • Shingo

    $49.99 s a good price…..

    • Sean Clark

      If this product has a $175 profit margin, then I’m sure we’ll see competitors spring up quickly.
      Personally, I think consumers are underestimating how much time and money this costs to develop and produce.

      • ElderKing

        I don’t doubt it cost a lot to develop, but at the end of the day you are buying a toy. is the value you get out of it as a toy worth the asking price? that is independent of its development cost.

      • Sean Clark

        It’s totally up to the potential customer whether or not $200 is too much for a toy, but that doesn’t change the fact that the price needs to reflect R&D costs for the business to have any chance of being profitable.