Racing die-cast cars on a slot track is all manners of fun. Of course, what will be even more fun is if you can actually control the cars like a proper RC. The Anki Drive (and, later, Overdrive) actually made this happen, although the inclusion of weapons added a sci-fi element that made it feel like less of a racing simulation. The MODIplay, on the other hand, feels like a real-world race in miniature form.
An app-controlled racing system, it lets you drive miniature cars using an app across a modular race track, similar to what you can do with most any RC setup. Except, in this instance, the app uses AI to limit the cars’ behaviors, so that they stay on the track and perform the way actual vehicles do when running laps down at your local speedway.
The MODIplay consists of two components: the MODI-Racer and the MODI-track. As you can probably infer, MODI-Racer refers to the vehicles, which are 1:64-scale cars styled to resemble actual racing machines, while MODI-track refers to the modular track panels. The basic set comes with two MODI-Racers and 15 track panels, which can be assembled into a 20-foot-long circuit, although you can, of course, add more vehicles and more tracks. According to the outfit, as many as 30 cars can race on a single track at the same time.
The MODI-Racers come in two body styles, open-cabin and hardtop, albeit with different-colored cars getting different simulated engines and driving characteristics, so there’s effectively six different cars to collect in the set. Each car gets its own motor and wireless connectivity, of course, with power sent to the rear wheels and steering performed using the front wheels. For collecting information on vehicle performance, it comes with a three-axis gyroscope, a track scan sensor, and an onboard CPU.
The MODIplay system lets you tune your car via the companion app, so you can adjust plenty of parameters, like braking, acceleration, and tire grip, among others, with the AI making real-time adjustments to the vehicle characteristics on the fly as needed (e.g. it increases turning radius the faster you go). In case you want to drive freely, you can, as the system allows you to adjust the intensity of AI driving assistance, so you can turn it up when you need a lot of help and turn it down if you want more autonomy. At the most unassisted setting, drivers get full reign on their cars, unless it detects they’re going off-track, in which case it will intervene to keep them on the track. According to the outfit, the vehicles can run at maximum speeds that simulated a real car running at 210 mph, although they don’t list an actual top speed for the toy car.
The cars, by the way, come with both front and rear lights, so they look and feel like real cars while winding through a circuit. And yes, you can drive them off-track much like any regular RC for those times you want to relax and drive a miniature car around every corner the living room.
A Kickstarter campaign is currently running for the MODIplay. You can reserve a unit for pledges starting at €165.