“I wish you could play this game in real life.”
Those words have been muttered by almost everyone who’s ever played the game Mario Kart — and if you’ve played video games at all in the past couple decades, chances are you’ve encountered at least one of the titles in this classic franchise.
Well, the folks from National Instruments at Waterloo Labs have just answered the prayers of two generations worth of racing, shell-hurling, mystery-box-collecting Mario Kart fans. They’ve developed a system that uses a variety of electric motors, micro-processors and RFID tags to bring the same gameplay of the video game to real life.
Yes, with real go-karts, stars, shells, and track obstacles. Even Chain Chomps for heaven’s sake.
I think I might cry.
Users race around the track in real go-karts, except these ones are tricked out with ruggedized micro-processors, pressure systems (to shoot shells at people), and servo motors. The servo motors work just like any electric motor would, except they come with a potentiometer.
This means that, coupled with the microprocessor, the go-kart knows when it runs over a banana peel or collects a star, and reacts accordingly (either swiveling off the road in the case of the former, or going a bit faster in the case of the latter).
The folks at Waterloo Labs say they have no plans to commercialize the course, but that “all of the designs and code are available and WLL would be thrilled to help someone set up a system just like it.”