Among the plethora of announcements made by Amazon Web Services during its annual re:Invent 2018 conference in Las Vegas this week, one of the cuter ones comes in the form of the DeepRacer.

It’s a 1/18th scale racing car that AWS created in order to help developers better understand the dynamics of autonomous vehicles. More specifically it utilises the cloud computing firm’s reinforcement learning models in a real-world environment as opposed to a virtual one.

For those unfamiliar with reinforcement learning, it’s a subset of machine learning, which is a field that AWS has been investing in heavily over the past year, along with announcing several new services aimed specifically at this segment of the industry.

“Reinforcement Learning is one of the technologies that are used to make self-driving cars a reality; the AWS DeepRacer is the perfect vehicle (so to speak) for you to go hands-on and learn all about it. We’re ramping up volume production and you will be able to buy one of your very own very soon,” explains chief evangelist at AWS, Jeff Barr.

Shifting back to the DeepRacer, it’s up for pre-order on Amazon right now for $249 (~R3 403) at a discounted rate, before selling for $300 (~R4 100).

AWS is hoping developers interested in the field of machine learning and autonomous vehicles will begin experimenting with the DeepRacer, and in particular start using the device to train their own software to react more intuitive to the designated track that comes with the small car.

So much so that AWS has also launched a DeepRacer League which will host competitions at key events across the globe, followed by a final to beheld at next year’s re:Invent. For this year, developers only had about 24 hours to try out the DeepRacer, and having watched them in action, accuracy is clearly more important than speed.

So what does a developer get if they purchase a DeepRacer?

Well this pretty fancy remote control car (sans the remote) features an Intel Atom Processor, 4GB RAM, 32GB of expandable storage and a 4MP camera up front to help with its guidance. On the software side the DeepRunner is sporting an Ubuntu OS (16.04.3 LTS), Intel OpenVINO toolkit and ROS Kinetic for developers to tinker with.

With machine learning of the key areas that AWS is focusing on over the coming years, it should be interestign to see if more fun offerings like the DeepRacer will be on the way.