Patrick Grieve
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Heroic Hackers Turn Chevy Volt Into Mario Kart 64 Arcade Machine

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Mario Kart 64 being played on a Chevy Volt

Recently, I discovered that the arcade bar near my apartment has “Mario Kart Arcade GP 2,” an arcade machine version of the classic go-kart racing game that allows up to two players to compete against one another as classic Mario (or, weirdly, Pac-Man) characters. As someone who has only ever played console versions of Mario Kart, I thought it was the coolest thing I had ever seen.

But then today I saw this—a Chevy Volt that hackers have transformed into a controller for “Mario Kart 64,” the beloved Nintendo 64 game that taught a whole generation of gamers to live in fear of blue shells.

The trio of hackers, who won multiple awards for their work at the University of Illinois’ HackIllinois 2016 competition, showed off their brilliant breakthrough on YouTube:

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As the driver explains, the Volt works just like an arcade racing game—you push the gas pedal to accelerate, the brake pedal to decelerate, and use the steering wheel to maneuver. However, due to Chevy’s oversight in not equipping its vehicles with standard weapon throwing and speed boost capabilities, the team had to use the headlights and wipers switches to accomplish those functions.

According to a string of words that I don’t understand published in an article by Road and Track, “the team hooked up a Raspberry Pi mini-computer to the car’s OBD2 port, allowing a laptop to read the CAN BUS signals coming from the car’s steering, throttle and brake sensors.” As a technologically illiterate man, the only thing I was able to glean from that passage is the reasoning behind the group’s name, “Catch Me If You CAN.”

It should be noted that the 2017 Chevy Volt has a 53-mile electric range, a 43 mpg gasoline engine, and modern tech features such as Apple CarPlay and Android Auto. And yet, the fact that it can effectively be turned into a console for a 1996 racing game strikes me as by far the vehicle’s coolest feature.

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News Source: Road and Track

Patrick Grieve was born in Southwestern Ohio and has lived there all of his life, with the exception of a few years spent getting a Creative Writing degree in Southeastern Ohio. He loves to take road trips, sometimes to places as distant as Northeastern or even Northwestern Ohio. Patrick also enjoys old movies, shopping at thrift stores, going to ballgames, writing about those things, and watching Law & Order reruns. He just watches the original series, though, none of the spin-offs. And also only the ones they made before Jerry Orbach died. Season five was really the peak, in his opinion. See more articles by Patrick.