Sega Rally at the arcade was a blast when I was growing up, and it probably still is, though I haven’t played it in a few years. But Portuguese hardware hacker Luis Sobral (aka The Arcade Man) and robotics company Artica made it even better during the recent Sapo Codebits VI conference by introducing remote-controlled cars into the mix, along with cameras and an Arduino receiver to grab transmitted acceleration, braking and turning commands relayed from the arcade cabinet.
The end result is an arcade game that lets racers go head-to-head in remote-controlled, real-world races – what you see on-screen is what the remote-controlled car is seeing, and your steering wheel, brake and gas all control that vehicle’s movement through physical space. Two drivers can go head-to-head, and two cameras mounted on the RC vehicles provided either a front-facing view (which Sobral says proved incredibly challenging for drivers) essentially at ground level, or a higher up perspective looking down on the car from behind, much like you’d get in any modern video game racing simulation.
The rear camera took a few tries to get right, according to Sobral, since finding a way to fix the camera in the required position, while still ensuring it could withstand crashes and bumps turned out to be a challenge. Eventually a piece of PVC piping proved durable and stable enough to withstand even the most gruelling races.
Check out a shortened version of the entire process in the video above. It’s an amazing undertaking, especially as an impromptu weekend project, and the end result looks like something I’d be happy to spend hours playing. The chiptunes soundtrack to the video is pretty darn catchy, too.