Smart, self-driving cars sound pretty cool, but it’s still hard to wrap your mind around how the technology would be implemented. How would they work alongside cars still driven by people? Won’t they need an insane amount of safety features and protocols, to account for a dizzying number of possible crisis scenarios on the road? Well, this remote control won’t answer all of your questions, but it’s at least a fun way to get a small idea of what self-driving cars would be like in practice.
The Smart Car Robotics kit from Thames and Kosmos is a model you can build of a futuristic-looking autonomous car. Once you’re done, it’ll be a functional remote control car, but the real experience comes from not controlling it at all.
Using Bluetooth LE to save battery life, the car syncs up with a smartphone app, so you can control it or program routes. The kit also comes with a few augmented reality markers – spread them out across the floor, and when you look through your tablet using the app, you’ll see a whole cityscape to navigate through. You can then draw routes through the city that your car will automatically traverse – not too dissimilar from how things would work in real life. Just, you know, add in all the other cars (and drivers) on the road. There is that.
For those looking to delve a little deeper into how self-driving cars would actually work, the instruction manual included gives detailed information about all the technologies being researched and used, like laser detectors, GPS navigation, radar systems, and on-board computers – some of which have already found their way onto modern cars.
The Smart Car Robotics kit is selling for $130. Currently, the companion app is only available for iOS, but an Android version is in development.