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Amazon web services launched a self-driving toy car, that hopes to encourage a community of developers interested in machine learning.

The AWS DeepRacer is a radio-controlled four-wheel drive, and is trained using reinforcement learning, which is a form of AI. Basically, it means that it will learn to drive better through trial and error.

AWS DeepRacer is about 1/18th the size of an actual car and will cost around $400, although currently it is being offered at a pre-order price of $249. The objective is for developers to program the AWS DeepRacer to drive itself using Amazon SageMaker, Amazon's artificial intelligence service. Onboard the toy car is an Intel Atom processor, a 4MP camera with 1080p resolution that has a heat map to detect obstacles, WI-FI access and enough battery to last about two hours. The Atom processor runs Ubuntu 16.04 LTS, ROS (robot operating system) and the Intel Openvino™ computer vision toolkit.

Developers can test-drive the car by using a 3D simulator, giving developers the chance to virtually drive their car on a collection of tracks to determine whether their algorithm is good enough. When they are happy they can plug the algorithm into the car and race it for real.

AWS is launching the DeepRacer league, an autonomous racing league that will hold matches at Amazon cloud events throughout next year. There will be developers that will compete against each other by racing cars to see whose algorithm leads to the fastest race times.

Winners and top scorers will advance to the AWS DeepRacer 2019 championship cup at re:Invent 2019. With machine learning of the key areas that AWS is focusing on over the coming years, it should be interesting to see if more fun offerings like the DeepRacer will be on the way.

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