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Real-life Mario Kart looks amazing from the perspective of a self-flying Skydio drone

Real-life Mario Kart looks amazing from the perspective of a self-flying Skydio drone


Mowing the lawn never seemed so fun

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Mario Kart in real life is a commonly shared dream, one that doesn’t typically live up to your imagination — but we’re definitely not giving up. Recently, Nintendo launched an official $100 R/C car with mixed-reality tracks and and a full-on AR ride at Japan’s Super Nintendo World.

Now, independent filmmaker Ian Padgham has come up with another must-try idea: riding a lawnmower on a closed course, from the perspective of a self-flying drone.

Mario Kart in real life thanks to CG and a self-flying drone: a chain chomp appears to be attacking this riding lawnmower.
Yes please.
Image: Ian Padgham

Not that he’s actually playing a game in this awesome video, mind: Padgham just set his Skydio drone to film a normal video of him riding around, and then he added a lot of CG in post. “The footage itself was already pretty stable so I was able to just take it in After Effects and Cinema 4D and do tracking and make a topo map of the property,” he tells The Verge. “Then it was just a matter of coming up with ideas, making assets and characters, and putting it all together.”

But to quote The Six Million Dollar Man, we have the technology! Savvy programmers could totally pair a headset with a self-flying drone and make this game for real.

  • As I explained in our Skydio 2 review, the company’s technology has come to the point where I implicitly trust it to follow me without crashing. You don’t need to worry about controlling this kind of drone at all — you’d only need to worry about steering the lawnmower.
  • We’ve already seen that you can make real-life feel like a third-person video game by pairing a drone with an FPV headset and flying it behind your body while walking around.
  • Mixed-reality headsets like the Microsoft Hololens have repeatedly and convincingly overlaid CG on top of the real world in real-time (though admittedly only across a narrow field of view). They could certainly turn reality into Mario Kart from a drone’s perspective.
  • Drones like the Skydio 2 have a surprising amount of processing power inside these days, too.
  • The world has absolutely built go-karts that can artificially slow themselves down when hit by a virtual turtle shell.

We just haven’t put them all together yet. Speaking of which, Skydio — when can we expect an FPV headset from you? It’s right up there with “build a smaller folding drone that easily fits in a messenger bag” when it comes to no-brainer moves.

Update, 12:46 AM ET: Added quotes from Padgham.