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RE: Real FX slotless racing: Review

RE: Real FX slotless racing: Review

Thursday 23rd July 2015

Real FX slotless racing: Review

Smart RC cars you can race like Scalextric with videogame-like interaction? Gis a go!



Scalextric. Radio-controlled cars. Videogames. How many a life-long fixation with cars has been forged with childhood obsession with one or all of these? Guilty as charged in the PH office! And seemingly so for the creators of a new 'slotless racing' system called RealFX aiming to combine the best of all three.

RealFX man Graeme talks us through his creation
RealFX man Graeme talks us through his creation
At heart RealFX uses small radio-controlled cars running around a plastic track. But it's far, far smarter than that with optical sensors able to keep them within the track confines without any control from the driver whatsoever. The faster you go the more throttle and steering input is required and if you overcook it you will leave the track. Unlike Scalextric you don't have to send your little brother to the other side of the room to recover it though - you can simply drive it back onto the circuit and carry on racing.

The 'smart' element means Billy No Mates types can race against a self-driving rival (akin to the 'ghost' cars in videogames), the level of difficulty can be adjusted from near autonomous to total control and RealFX can even throw in virtual 'traps' like oil spills, tyre wear and other challenges. And because there are no slots you can overtake on either side, powerslide around your rivals and genuinely feel like you have real control over your car.

"Sorry love, I've been held up at the office..."
"Sorry love, I've been held up at the office..."
Chucking out time at PH Towers or not, when RealFX founder Graeme Taylor offered to drop by and let us set up a track on the office floor there were more than a few calls to home.

Track set-up is quicker than the fiddly clips of Scalextric, the sheets of plastic simply linking together to create a circuit that suits your space and driving skills. Ours had a crossover bridge included, Graeme says the cars will in theory be capable of doing a loop the loop and they're working on the mechanics of making this happen. Everything is battery operated, Taylor telling us he set a car running in autonomous mode with a fresh set and it bimbled round on its own for a number of hours.

Strong drift skills from PH man Nikolai
Strong drift skills from PH man Nikolai
The starter set comes with a pair of cars but you'll be able to add more to the grid as required; at the moment they're a generic NASCAR style vehicle but RealFX is in negotiation with car manufacturers to get properly licenced versions of 'real' cars and the clip-on bodyshells and wheels mean you'll be able to run a fleet of cars off the same chassis much as you'd have a virtual garage in Gran Turismo.

The number of features packed into the cars and control system is hugely impressive, the fact the cars and track 'talk' to each other and the 'smart' control aspect bringing videogame style difficulty control to radio-controlled cars. So a five-year-old can race a car with all the assists on against dad with a more challenging car that needs full control to stay on the track, creating a level playing field for participants of all abilities. Lap times are recorded and reported via the handset, races of any length can be created and features like fuel consumption, tyre wear and damage can be incorporated requiring pit stops and other tactical elements.

'Real' licenced cars promised soon
'Real' licenced cars promised soon
Is it any good though? It'll certainly test your hand-eye coordination and those with experience of radio-controlled cars will be at an advantage. Learning the necessary smoothness to really balance the control inputs to the action on the track will take a bit of time too, at least given by our jerky inputs and frequency with which cars were departing the track and disappearing under nearby desks. If that happens you simply switch to RC mode, drive back onto the track and then switch the sensors back on to continue.

There's clearly a whole lot of time-wasting potential and, as promised, it's a lot more interactive and 'real' than a videogame while retaining welcome irritation factors to annoy grown-ups, be that the engine noise and commentary from the handsets, excitable shouting of competitors or traditional potential for chipped skirting boards from flying cars. And at £99.99 for the starter set it looks like pretty good value for money too.

RealFX promo vid

[Source: Wow! Stuff via YouTube]

Author
Discussion

djdest

Original Poster:

5,410 posts

101 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
WANT!!!! biggrin

court

1,354 posts

139 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all


website said:
Sorry, no retailers are selling Real FX: Slotless Racing with Artificial Intelligence in your country right now
Still a Kickstarter project https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/wowlabs/real-...

Edited by court on Thursday 23 July 10:25

CocoPops

390 posts

154 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
How does this compare to Anki Drive?
https://anki.com/en-us

hughcam

309 posts

88 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
Reaches for wallet....

RupertM

10 posts

28 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
Advertisement

RichardR

2,833 posts

191 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
I assumed that this would use the currently-preferred approach of control via smartphone but it appears that the set comes with dedicated controllers.

It would be nice to know more about the mechanism for keeping the cars on track and to see the controller in use but, at the end of the day, what's not to covet! lick

Also not sure why the article is linking to a fan site rather than the official one. confused

Dan Trent

1,807 posts

91 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
Apologies, correct link now in place.

And apparently they started out trying with smartphone control but there was too much lag so a dedicated controller has been used.

We were assured that the starter set is now on sale in Argos with other retailers coming on stream too. Can you ever be too early for Christmas?!

While I'm here credit to our sales guy Sabs, Racing Pete and PH production man Nikolai all of whom were considerably better than me at controlling the things. Special notice to Nikolai for getting a dab of oppo caught on camera too - mad skillz!

Cheers,

Dan

ManFromDelmonte

2,742 posts

103 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
RichardR said:
It would be nice to know more about the mechanism for keeping the cars on track and to see the controller in use but, at the end of the day, what's not to covet! lick
From memory when this was discussed on the frivolous purchases thread, it uses sensors in the car, and track with a special gradient printed on it to keep the cars on the straight and narrow.

Zarkingfardwarks

1,028 posts

160 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
http://www.argos.co.uk/static/Search/searchTerm/re...


Xmas pressie sorted (though it might have to be "dad tested" first..ahem)

Boydie88

2,402 posts

72 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
A spontaneous £100 gift for the nephew has never felt so tempting...
Are these as good as they sound?

keith2.2

522 posts

118 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
RupertM said:
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
erm...it is...

RupertM

10 posts

28 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
keith2.2 said:
RupertM said:
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
erm...it is...
Driving slowly and erratically in a controlled environment can be just as rewarding. This appears to be completely unrestricted unlike Scalxtrix which tought people about safety magnets.

scarble

5,067 posts

80 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
RupertM said:
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
rofl

morgs_

1,210 posts

110 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
RupertM said:
keith2.2 said:
RupertM said:
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
erm...it is...
Driving slowly and erratically in a controlled environment can be just as rewarding. This appears to be completely unrestricted unlike Scalxtrix which tought people about safety magnets.
We're all going on a, summer holiday... rolleyes

PS. Want! biggrin

Ex Boy Racer

963 posts

115 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
You have a coke machine in the office!!??? How cool...

j_s14a

767 posts

101 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
Boydie88 said:
A spontaneous £100 gift for the nephew has never felt so tempting...
Are these as good as they sound?
I was thinking exactly the same thing biggrin

graemetaylor

8 posts

28 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
Thanks for the review Dan - it was fun dropping in to see you guys!

So first of all, a disclaimer, as it was me that came in to give the demo, but I'm not here to do any selling! just thought I might be able to help answer any of the more specific questions that may come up :-)

There has been a bit of discussion about the degree of 'restriction' of the cars on the track. Just to clarify, the system uses AI to assist your driving, but you still need to practice & use your skill to get round it fast... the more you practice, the better you get.

At the moment, the degree of 'assistance' is fixed. We have tuned it to try & match realistic racing as closely as possible, so the car WILL come off on a bend if you take it too fast, or oversteer.

I mentioned that in future, we may allow adjustment of the assistance level, but for now, its set at what we believe to be the optimal balance to help you get around the track, with no restriction on where you can take your car in overtaking / undertaking moves, or following your desired racing line.

Big Bad Ben

211 posts

160 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
graemetaylor said:
Just thought I might be able to help answer any of the more specific questions that may come up :-)
Looks brilliant, definitely fancy getting my hands on one of these - any plans to get the sets selling anywhere other than Argos? Also, when are extra track pieces and spare cars/controllers likely to go on sale?

Some of the kickstarter supporters started a thread here back in December, is anyone on that thread reading this and can comment now they've had the sets for a few months?

Ursicles

594 posts

165 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
I have a 6yr old son who needs this in his life.... as a father its my duty to buy car related crap on his behalf.

dc2rr07

808 posts

154 months

Thursday 23rd July 2015
quotequote all
RupertM said:
keith2.2 said:
RupertM said:
This will just encourage kids that driving fast can be fun.
erm...it is...
Driving slowly and erratically in a controlled environment can be just as rewarding. This appears to be completely unrestricted unlike Scalxtrix which tought people about safety magnets.
Seriously, you are joking aren't you.