RasPi Roadster

What do toys look like in the future? How will they behave, and how will we interact with them? These are just some of the questions that led us to transform a radio-controlled car into something vastly different – a WiFi connected device operated by a gesture-based control system that explores how consumers may soon start experiencing traditional playthings in an entirely new light.

RasPi Roadster

About the project

What began as a normal RC car - complete with a wicked rumblin’ engine and extreme light effects - soon became a new vehicle altogether.

We started out by stripping the RC car all the way down to its base, motors, and wheels. Then, we got to work on a handful of modifications. The team developed a custom, high voltage and amperage controller to interface the Raspberry Pi with the motors through the digital I/O pins. We also added a WiFi dongle that allows us to access the Raspberry Pi over our wireless network.

Then, we tossed the classic two-buttoned radio controls and transitioned to a gesture-based system using a Leap Motion Controller. Our team designed and wrote our own unique application that allows the car’s operator to drive the vehicle by simply waving their hand.

Using open circuitry, we were able to supercharge the Roadster. Instead of running at its stock power supplied by four AA batteries, we’re operating with a 7.4V LiPo, which allows us to go really freakin’ fast. To account for the boost in power that came with the motor mods and a larger battery, we fixed one of the two rear free-spinning wheels, giving us more torque while maintaining the differential drive.

By writing the controller’s software to listen through a socket, we have the ability to swap out the input (controller) at any time. Instead of using a Leap Motion, we can experiment with voice control, touch screen, eye recognition controls, or even incorporate the classic arcade steering wheel. Whatever the controls may be, nobody’s ankles are safe when this beast is on the loose.

Why?

We know that Millennials are the first “always connected” generation. We also know that they are starting to have kids of their own, and that as parents, they will have a certain expectation of technology integrated throughout their children’s lives. Working with clients like Toy State and Sesame Street, we are always seeking out new ways to help satisfy these expectations and connect families. This type of exploration matters to their business, so any time we have a chance to experiment on their behalf, it’s a win/win. Plus, we really enjoy taking things apart and putting them back together.

Lots of wires, four wheels, one WiFi-enabled Raspberry Pi, and zero traditional remote controls. Behold, our new and improved Leap Motion-controlled car.
RasPi Roadster large image

Fine-tuning the mechanics of our creation.

Hard at work wiring the future of WiFi-enabled playthings.
The Leap Motion gesture-based controls in action.