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Virtual Reality Karting at K1 Speed Delivers a Real-Life Mario Kart Experience

man races kart with vr equipment

If you’ve ever dreamed of experiencing a real-life Mario Kart race, your dreams may soon be coming true; we’re working with Master of Shapes, Intel, and BlackTrax to bring a virtual reality karting experience to K1 Speed that the world has never seen before.

 

The Gamification of Real-Life Kart Racing

a k1 speed go kart outfitted with virtual reality tech

While there’s no denying that the official Mario Kart VR arcade game looks pretty darn cool, the go kart racing itself is only a simulation of the real deal. This VR game, however, puts you behind the wheel of an actual go-kart on a real-life track, providing an authentic racing experience complete with cornering g-forces and that instant “push your back into the seat” torque that our electric motors provide. Even the best motion simulators cannot replicate this unique sensation.

 

How it Works

microcontroller on back of k1 speed go kart

It took Master of Shapes six weeks to laser scan every twist and turn of our Torrance track, and equip the track’s perimeter with 28 cameras that detect the driver positions while racing virtually. A microcontroller on the kart, called the Teensy, reacts in real time to any movement in the kart: each push of the throttle or gas pedal and every turn of the wheel is registered and reflected in real-time via virtual reality.

 

The Game

view of track featured in k1 speed vr game
K1 Speed Torrance track in virtual reality game

Though the race against the clock is familiar, everything else about this hybrid race experience is different.  When you step into the kart and put on the Oculus Rift VR headset, our Torrance track no longer winds its way through a warehouse in South LA County, but a post-apocalyptic Tokyo nightscape. As you navigate our track, you’re racing past towering skyscrapers, futuristic light posts, flaming barriers, lasers, scattered wreckages, and more – all in an eerie red ambiance. Of course, the experience would not be complete without a soaring synthwave soundtrack that could’ve easily been from the hit Netflix show Stranger Things.

 

Power ups and speed boosts are littered throughout the track, and because you’re driving the real deal, your kart responds appropriately with either a boost of speed or sudden loss of power.

 

OMG, WHEN CAN I TRY THIS?!

We’re still in early testing stages with the companies involved, but we are definitely looking at bringing this experience to the public as soon as 2019. Further testing will include the use of multiple karts on the track at once, and there may be more than one environment that’ll be offered (a race through the tropics, perhaps?).

No matter how long it takes before you’re able to try it out for yourself, it’ll definitely be well worth the wait. In the meantime, visit our Torrance location and become an expert at our track. A little Mario Kart here and there might not hurt, either.

 

The future of K1 Speed is an exciting one – be sure to stay tuned to our website next year for more information about this ground-breaking racing experience!

Comments
  • Doug Tally

    Is the driver mapping the track for the VR program?

    I believed the driver would sit motionless but for accerating, brake and steering. If that be the case how will the program create g-forces for the driver.

    Such as in the space shuttle we see at public events as the capsules hydraulic arms pivot, bobb and weave to create the g-forces inside the shuttle and correspond with what is being viewed on the theatre style screen by the occupants.

    • Staff Writer

      Hello, Doug! The driver does not sit motionless – you’re actually driving the kart on the track in this case! So you’re doing real life go karting blended with virtual reality gaming. The entire track has cameras around the perimeter that maps the driver, ensuring their location on the physical track matches their position on the virtual track. So you’re experiencing the REAL g-forces of racing! Hope this clears things up. Thanks for your interest!

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