Introduction

We've been itching to get our hands on the Anki Drive system since it was first unveiled at Apple's WWDC. Now that it's finally rolled in, it feels like Christmas morning at iFixit, with itty bitty plastic cars zipping overland and underfoot. But as much as we'd like to keep reenacting our favorite scenes from The Fast and the Furious films, it's time to find out what lies under those tiny robotic hoods.

Looking for the inside track on iFixit? Enjoy our drive-thru Instagram, park it on our Facebook page, or race on over to our Twitter feed.

This teardown is not a repair guide. To repair your Anki Drive, use our service manual.

Anki is a tech startup aiming to bring artificial intelligence and adaptability to objects in the physical world. Their first offering to the masses: Anki Drive. The starter kit we laid hands on contains the following:
  • Anki is a tech startup aiming to bring artificial intelligence and adaptability to objects in the physical world. Their first offering to the masses: Anki Drive.

  • The starter kit we laid hands on contains the following:

    • Two Intelligent Cars

    • Two Charging Cases

    • Fast Charger

    • 3.5’ x 8.5’ Race Mat

    • Tire Cleaning Pad

  • We had to dig into the Tips menu of the accompanying iOS app, but we finally discovered our gooey stamp pad is for cleaning tires. It removes dust from the wheels, improving handling and teardown photos.

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  • There was no way we were going to proceed to the teardown without trying the Anki Drive first.

  • So guess what we did.

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With no special hardware in the track, and only a rudimentary image sensor and microcontroller in the car, just how does Anki Drive work? Looking closely at the track, we found its surface is covered in tiny ridges of varied patterns.
  • With no special hardware in the track, and only a rudimentary image sensor and microcontroller in the car, just how does Anki Drive work?

  • Looking closely at the track, we found its surface is covered in tiny ridges of varied patterns.

    • With unique patterns along the track, the Anki car can read a single mark and know exactly where it is—then read a second and know where it's going, and at what speed.

  • As excited as we are for a car that can drive by Braille, we worry that new dents (caused by an ill-placed foot or overexcited dog) might confuse the racers' sensors.

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The Anki Drive starter kit includes two cars equipped with optical sensors, wireless chips, and motors. Not a lot of processing happens in the Anki car itself—a base station iPhone or iPad running the Anki app interprets data, plans out the car's strategy, and sends control information back. The cars come with heavy-duty plastic cases that double as charging cradles, connecting via micro-USB to the Fast Charger.
  • The Anki Drive starter kit includes two cars equipped with optical sensors, wireless chips, and motors.

    • Not a lot of processing happens in the Anki car itself—a base station iPhone or iPad running the Anki app interprets data, plans out the car's strategy, and sends control information back.

  • The cars come with heavy-duty plastic cases that double as charging cradles, connecting via micro-USB to the Fast Charger.

    • According to Anki, a full charge takes 8 to 10 minutes and provides 20 minutes of high-speed action.

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Deck the Halls
With tools and Fix Kits
A single Phillips #0 screw secures the body to the chassis. That means no adhesive, no security screws, and no complications of any kind to hinder chassis replacement.
  • A single Phillips #0 screw secures the body to the chassis.

  • That means no adhesive, no security screws, and no complications of any kind to hinder chassis replacement.

    • We'll consider that an invitation to soup this bad boy up.

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With all of the fancy processing tasks offloaded to your iDevice, the Anki car needs very little to survive in the wild. After desoldering the dual motors' leads, the motherboard lifts easily out of the chassis, bringing all of the sensory, communication, and control circuitry out with it. It even hosts two gear guides to keep the drive gears aligned to their motors, making this motherboard a true multitasker.
  • With all of the fancy processing tasks offloaded to your iDevice, the Anki car needs very little to survive in the wild.

  • After desoldering the dual motors' leads, the motherboard lifts easily out of the chassis, bringing all of the sensory, communication, and control circuitry out with it.

    • It even hosts two gear guides to keep the drive gears aligned to their motors, making this motherboard a true multitasker.

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This little guy reads its position hundreds of times per second; we must figure out how! The likely suspect seems to be hiding behind a light guide/lens assembly. We brought it in for questioning. The lens/guide unit is anchored by two plastic fasteners. They may be lightweight, but the removal process limits their future fastening ability.
  • This little guy reads its position hundreds of times per second; we must figure out how!

  • The likely suspect seems to be hiding behind a light guide/lens assembly. We brought it in for questioning.

    • The lens/guide unit is anchored by two plastic fasteners. They may be lightweight, but the removal process limits their future fastening ability.

  • The infrared light from an LED is channeled through the light guide to illuminate the track, allowing the imaging sensor to read the patterns as they whiz by the lens—a lot like an optical mouse.

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The front side of the motherboard: STMicroelectronics F051K86 Entry-level ARM Cortex-M0 MCU with 64 Kbytes Flash, 48 MHz CPU, Motor Control and CEC Functions
  • The front side of the motherboard:

    • STMicroelectronics F051K86 Entry-level ARM Cortex-M0 MCU with 64 Kbytes Flash, 48 MHz CPU, Motor Control and CEC Functions

    • Nordic Semiconductor NRF8001 Single-Chip Bluetooth Low Energy Connectivity IC

    • e160 317a

  • There are a few additional components on the board:

    • Imaging sensor

    • Four LEDs: one on the front side and a row of three on the back side

    • Fullriver 3.7 V lithium battery

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With the help of a spudger, we remove the motors from this zippy little guy, leaving him … unzipped. Twin motors help the rear wheels do double duty, providing both propulsion and some surprisingly snappy steering. With its motors hanging way out back of the rear axle, this little Ankimobile definitely hails from the controversial Porsche 911 school of car design.
  • With the help of a spudger, we remove the motors from this zippy little guy, leaving him … unzipped.

  • Twin motors help the rear wheels do double duty, providing both propulsion and some surprisingly snappy steering.

  • The front wheels' only job is to not fall off. (It's always the little things.)

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There isn't much inside the Anki Drive, so we make sure to pull out every little component. To be thorough, we remove the light guide and 7.1 grams of various weights, used to keep the cars from flying off the track.
  • There isn't much inside the Anki Drive, so we make sure to pull out every little component.

  • To be thorough, we remove the light guide and 7.1 grams of various weights, used to keep the cars from flying off the track.

    • Here's hoping future editions allow the cars to be thrown from the track when shot with the pulse carbine … resulting in fiery explosions!

    • Sadly, we suspect exploding toy cars might not pass CPSC muster.

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Anki Drive Repairability Score: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair) The device contains only three screws, all non-proprietary. Removing a single screw frees the chassis.
  • Anki Drive Repairability Score: 8 out of 10 (10 is easiest to repair)

  • The device contains only three screws, all non-proprietary. Removing a single screw frees the chassis.

  • There's no adhesive to obstruct repairs. In fact, the only adhesive to be found is a light foam tape that helps secure the battery.

  • The battery and motors are soldered to the motherboard, requiring specialized repair knowledge.

  • The track is hefty but easy to dent. While unconfirmed, this may lead to future usability issues.

  • The wheels and drive gears appear to be glued and/or riveted in and non-replaceable.

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17 Comments

In step 6, could have the black plastic pieces to guide the gears any wiring?

Could read the gears movement like the old mechanical mouses?

Has more sense to control the movement of the drives...

Miguel - Reply

I agree, look like photo interrupters to measure the speed

Jay Couture -

I broke my gear guide because they do mechanical block. How can I repair them?

olegshepeta -

What capacity is the battery? Could it feasibly be swapped for one with more mAh to allow for longer play?

abimaelleon - Reply

Today I determined they are 75mAh.

I asked myself the same question about increased capacity.

You can find the mini/micro equivalents on many sites (not necessarily Fullriver) but I cannot find a mini/micro of larger capacity.

In the first instance though I merely want to repair the cars that will no longer hold charge because they have not been used in a while.

giles -

Only now is this page coming up in my search results!

https://support.anki.com/hc/en-gb/articl...

giles -

The black pieces look like hall effect sensors to me - possibly to detect other nearby cars(?)

Ed Halferty - Reply

I have to agree with Jay, the "gear guides are most probably photo interrupters, looking at step 9 2nd photo you can even see the slots in the gear and in step 8 it looks like there are 4 solder pads, just like a photo interupter.

Tim van Hoof - Reply

What Wi-Fi Chipset it has? What is the use of Wi-Fi in this Product?

vibith143 - Reply

Need the Rubber part of the back tires. Does anyone know where I can find some?

Aurlelio - Reply

Broken cars.

giles -

Has anyone hacked these cars with bigger batteries? How big have you gone?

I'm going to report back after I do more research and hack my kids cars. ;-)

david brown - Reply

They come with a micro sized battery of 75mAh (as posted above). I cannot find an increased capacity of equal size.

I can find one of increased capacity of greater size / weight (roughly double weight) that may fit but is unlikely to and also has a completely different connector without wires, which I suppose could be overcome if it would fit.

Of course a greater charge time would be needed that sort of defeats the object of about 20 minutes play with a roughly 10 / 11 minute recharge time.

giles -

If changing the battery is your only goal then Step 6 desoldering the dual motors' leads is unnecessary.

The board can be flipped out from the other end leaving them connected by careful levering (finger nails or small jewellers' flat head screwdriver) each of the side of the board alternately whilst at the same time applying slight sideways pressure on the small black retaining clips on either side of the black plastic car chassis just after it tapers inwards on each side.

Worked for me anyway and I now have clear access to the battery connectors to desolder and replace.

Sticky black spongy material easily comes off old battery to apply to new one.

giles -

What about Overdrive? Isn't it the same? Also. I would love for you guys to tell me the motors of the overdrive cars guardian and groundshock, mine are... a little bit busted

Nathan Reinhardt - Reply

Wheels capture dust and (cat) hair which adds resistance to wheel movement and slows down car; how to clean wheels (not tires)?

Michael Kauf - Reply

Anyone know the discharge rate of the 3.7v 75mAh battery? Is it 20c? I'm looking to try and bump the capacity to 100mAh if it will fit.

Jason Bragdon - Reply

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