Thank you for your question — this is a very important one.
The cars in Anki Drive are characters in a video game brought to life in the physical world.
Anki Drive cars are extremely different from other types of cars (plastic, RC, etc.). They are very complex and capable robotic systems that can bring the characters they represent to life in a way that has never been possible outside of a video game: with intelligence, personality, and true interaction. For the first time, you can play a game where whatever cars you don’t control come to life and are controlled by the AI, reacting autonomously to what you’re doing and what the other cars are doing. The have a lot of sensors, motors, and computation internally (50 MHz microcontroller in each car) to make this possible.
In terms of their capabilities, there are 3 key challenges of robotics that we had to solve to make Anki Drive, and the capabilities of the cars within, possible:
Positioning — every car needs to understand precisely where it is, and where the other cars are relative to it. To do this, each car scans its environment 500 times per second to know with exact precision where it is located on the track, and wirelessly communicates that back to the mobile devices running the game.
Reasoning — Once the cars know where they are, we use that information to make intelligent decisions and plans for the cars that are controlled by the game. We use mobile devices as the ‘brains’ behind the real-world game, thinking about thousands of potential actions every second for each car.