Monday, June 10, 2013
Anki Debuts Serious Robotics AI With Fun Racing Game At WWDC, Raises $50M Led By A16Z
Remember the cute Anki Drive demo from WWDC? Well what you might have missed is that the toy car racing game was just a front for a hardcore robotics artificial intelligence startup that could let machines understand exactly where they are in the physical world. Andreessen Horowitz, Index Ventures, and Two Sigma see the potential, as they’ve invested a total of $50 million Series A and Series B funding to help Anki launch in the fall.
Video games have long had computer-controlled players. They’re the bots you shoot, dribble around, or race against. But they existed solely in the digital world. Anki brings this artificial intelligence into the meatspace through robotics. At first, that will make for fun games. You race an RC car against artificially (or actually) intelligent opponent who can try to block you from passing them — using the same algorithmic calculations a human brain makes while driving.
In the future, Anki won’t just be a toy, though. Perhaps it will let robots dodge human workers in factories, or keep mechanized assistants from tripping over your feet within the home? There are more phone-controlled IRL Anki products to come. Thus far, no one’s disclosing more details.
“It’s extraordinarily sophisticated software,” said investor Marc Andreessen in a phone interview this morning, “and closer to the Google Self-Driving car than anything else. And really fast. We think it points to the direction of the future, bringing AI into the living room...Read more»
By: Alexia Tsotsis