The Anki DRIVE starter set is a high-tech robotic racetrack controlled through a free downloadable app. The kit comes with two race cars-nicknamed Boson and Kourai, two charging cases with power cords, one large 3.5-feet-by-8.5-feet foldable race track, and tire cleaner. Place the cars in the chargers, roll out the map, download the Anki Drive app from the Apple App Store or Google Play, and you're ready to go. The app will walk you through everything you need to do. There's even a tutorial that is clear and easy to follow. The cars connect to the app, and read thousands of sensors located across the surface of the mat. An Anki vehicle can register a single senor to pinpoint its location and read where and how fast its going. The technology is pretty advanced, however you don't need to understand any of it to play. Just power up your cars, gain experience through racing, and activate weapons for real video game-like competition.
The learning curve was surprisingly easy. You'll use your device to steer, throttle, and compete, but because this is so well designed, the emphasis is on mastering your skills not trying to figure out how it works. You can also play in an artificial intelligence (AI) solo mode. You control one car, while the AI controls the other. You'll compete in different races and competitions.
You can also add players if each has installed the app on a separate device. You can add additional cars, which are sold separately. This can be a solo, video game type of play or a social, competitive and exciting multi-person activity.
This is sophisticated enough to appeal to adults and gadget-lovers of all ages, but it's also easy enough for kids to operate. We also like how the different races and competitions constantly challenge your skill and you can make it more difficult as you master the driving.
All of this elegance and sophistication comes at a relatively hefty price. But given the level of play, the award-worthy design, and the extraordinary application of sophisticated technology, we think the level of fun and engagement will more than pay back your investment.
Anki DRIVE is for ages 8 and up.
The free app is available for free download through the App Store and Google Play. (The android version is expected to be released shortly after this review was published.)
The starter set comes with two cars, but you can add other cars to race up to four at once, even if you're controlling one and the A-I is controlling the other three. When playing with people, everyone can connect their devices to their cars simply by downloading the free app.
Additional race tracks and vehicles are sold separately.
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