In fairness, it is being billed as "the most advanced robotic toy ever."
Disney Pixar’s Cars series is often criticized for being a cynical cash-in designed primarily to sell toys for kids. And, well, those criticisms aren’t unfounded – the first Cars film sold $10 billion in merchandise. Coinciding with the upcoming release of Cars 3, branding this new Lightning McQueen model from RC car maker Sphero as a toy doesn’t really do it justice. Billed as the “ultimate” Lightning McQueen, Sphero’s CEO Paul Berberian is touting it as “the most advanced robotic toy ever.”
It’s hard to dispute that claim. Sphero’s Lightning McQueen can be controlled using a companion smartphone app, but this is far more advanced than your average RC car. Lightning McQueen is brought to life with animated eyes and mouth and a suspension system that accurately mimic’s his on-screen movements.
It also utters 300 phrases voiced by the original voice actor Owen Wilson. According to The Verge, Sphero’s Lightning McQueen is so technically advanced, it’s comprised of 450 parts and took 17 months to build. McQueen’s eyes are simulated by a 320 x 120 LCD screen, while five motors control the car’s movement with a sixth inside the mouth. An ambient light sensor turns the headlights on and off, and everything is powered by three built-in processors. Five loaded touch sensors also means it reacts if you touch the roof, hood, or doors. On a single charge, the RC car will last for 40 minutes and has a 30-foot range.
And in case you were wondering, its top speed is a scintillating six mph, so it probably won't win any races. Being such an advanced RC car, it comes as no surprise that Sphero’s Lightning McQueen will retail for $300 when it goes on sale this summer to coincide with the film’s theatrical release. This is the same company that built the RC BB8 droid for the release of The Force Awakens. Racing to cinemas on June 18th, Cars 3 will take the animation series back to its racing roots with a plot centering on McQueen struggling to stay relevant against his new high-tech competition.