Racing Game Uses A Physical Race Track And Vehicle

Racer is a racing video game with a very real element. The player sits in an arcade-style console; wheel, pedals, shifter, and television display. But in what must be an homage to Tron the game taking place is very real. You can see the track above, designed in CAD and cut from cardboard, which is navigated by that little vehicle the gentleman holds in his hand. It’s wireless and broadcasts video back to the control console. What we have here is a homemade drone but for now it’s confined to the gaming grid. Don’t miss the demos after the break.


There’s a followup demo to the clip above but we were unable to embed it.

[Thanks Hideki]

38 thoughts on “Racing Game Uses A Physical Race Track And Vehicle

  1. That is bad ass! The only thing I can see to be a prob is the cam’s wireless signal seems to go out in a crash and the top of the arcade unit is not fastened correctly where it rotates on something.

  2. all racing games used physical items way back in the day (like when I was a kid)

    but this sure beats the hell out of a hotwheel glued to a wire with scrolling paper as a track though

  3. awesome!

    one thought. inside the hexagonal shape of the track (great for stability), one could add a sort of half-pipe (just curved sheets of cardboard) to reduce the risk of flipping over, and allowing to use centrifugal force for taking faster turns :)
    i’m waiting for version 2.0!

  4. I’ve been wanting to do this, glad someone did.

    For version 0.3:
    Wireless induction charging in the base of the track, a la fzero.
    Voltage regulators to run the camera and its transmitter off of the RC battery so that the center of gravity is lower.
    Multiple cars/controllers for real time competition.

    For version 0.4:
    Laser tag weapon system between cars!
    turbo boost!
    sweet jumps?
    Bring it to my house?

  5. now where this is awesome is other nerds can build their own cars/video-controllers (doesn’t have to be a full steering-wheel thing)and have actual races.

    i think the full sized track is the real winner here.

  6. I may as well get this out of the way before the trolls do:

    No, it’s not technically a hack. No, there don’t seem to be instructions on how to reproduce it. Yes, there’s a very real possibility an Arduino was used somewhere in the process of designing/making/implementing this.

    Still, I WANT ONE!!!

  7. Nice early alpha prototype.

    Now upgrade to a real camera and wireless video that does not blank out every 2 inches like the low grade stuff he is using does.

    what interested me more is the track design. That’s very cool compared to the ho hum rc car build. I am highly impressed with his choice of cheap materials and what looks like a modular design that would allow easy changes to different track configurations.

    That size with the right choice in cars and you could get 4 cars on the track at once for some real head to head racing fun.

  8. I did basically the same thing with my kids by taping a cheap wireless video camera to the top of one of their radio shack RC cars and then setting up an obstacle course out of toys in the living room.

    Driving the car from the TV only was pretty difficult, but it was really exciting. It gave you a much greater sensation of speed than any video game I’ve ever played. I think the tweaked sense of scale had something to do with it.

  9. The first thing he does need to fix is the car, lower the center of balance on it. If you could get the CoB low enough, you could put a roll cage on the top of the vehicle, when it crashes it simply rolls over and sets itself back up, like a weeble.

    The only thing keeping that track from looking really well done is the ripple of paper in the middle of the road. It looks like he could use something to glue that down. It does not look like he sets the track up, then lays a roll of paper down, so secure the road surface a little better.

    Better camera system would be great too.

  10. 15 years ago we made a somewhat similar prototype for an augmented reality system. The RC car had 2 cameras on it for stereoscopic vision that were fed into the helmet mounted display. Furthermore the car had ultrasound sensors which fed into renderers which knew about the (static) scenery. By flipping a switch the user would either view the track through the car’s “eyes” or a bird’s eye view of the car & track.

  11. That track looks like lots of fun to drive, top marks for the entire build, lucky to have all that indoor space to build it in too.

    FPV RC car driving is a lot of fun, if you don’t want to go to the trouble of building a whole arcade cabinet then some good LCD glasses work great, especially if you take the time to somehow block off excess daylight so you only see the screens.

    When I first got into it I found that driving the car from the camera mounted to the front of the RC car becomes easier and more ‘natural’ than driving it normally.

    I got just got some Zeiss Cinemizer LCD glasses, pretty good optics though not as good optics on my high end Sony Glasstrons which are better for watching films etc., but oh so much more portable and ideal for FPV RC car driving.

  12. v1.1 add some sort of shock absorbing/isolation mounts for the camera so it doesn’t cut out at every joint in the track or when it rolls.

    There’s no need drop cash to get a new better camera when you can acheive the same results with some rubber motherboard/case fan mounts that cost next to nothing.

  13. Wow, the game’s graphics are indeed pretty convincing and realistic. Makes me almost feel as this is a real car on a real track.

    Seriously though, I indeed have a comp.sci. degree, but I will never be able to be that creative. :/ Nice job and keep up the amazing work.

  14. The camera cutting out might be annoying in a way but it also gives it a nice ‘real’ effect, and it might prevent it from getting boring maybe?

    And there are remote control toy cars that can flip and continue, might be an idea to use one of those, or add some attachment that tips it back.

  15. I wanted to do something a while back. I modified an XMOD with some performance parts. I put a small wireless camera on the hood and could drive through the house watching on my TV. I was trying to tap into the controller signal but gave up on that end. Those things get pretty damn fast with the right stuff on them, mine was tested at 30mph, which is pretty wicked inside.

  16. Great build!

    @Mythgarr: There was an Arduino involved, as mentioned in the subtitles.

    @Headbonk: I did something similar to your RC car with a camera, except I built a tiny robot with a Wifi camera mounted on it, and instead of the TV, I watched the action on my computer. Instead of toys in a living room, I used mine to.. um… “explore the mysterious land of Underbed seeking new life (apparently inhabited by a civilization of Dust Bunnies)”. There’s no way I’d have built a dedicated cabinet for the control system, though. That’s hard core.

    Version 2 of my system (still just something to toy around with) is going to use 4 cameras with a 90° POV, one pointed straight ahead and the other three pointed at the main compass headings (in other words, separated by 90°), which would feed back to a set of 4 projectors that would project the feed onto a ring of screens that would surround the user’s head, so you’d get a full view around the vehicle without the encumbrance of an HMD, or the hassle of tracking the user’s head/eye position to adjust the view of a single display as the user turns or looks around.

  17. This really isn’t very new at all. Haven’t we all done something like this before? It was the first thing I did when I got a small wireless camera – I taped it into a Lego built race car, built a track around my home and raced around with it while sat in front of the TV.

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