Table tennis-playing robots are making quite a name for themselves just recently, with another ball-bashing bot making the news this week.
As table tennis champ Timo Boll prepares to take on Kuka Robotics’ bat-wielding ‘Agilus’ machine in Shanghai Tuesday in a much-anticipated man-versus-machine showdown, a guy by the name of Ulf Hoffmann has been busy knocking together a similarly sporty contraption of his own, which, judging by its performance in a recently posted YouTube video (below), could surely give Agilus a run for its money.
Hoffmann’s robot – which is operated by special software using data collected from cameras located in each corner of his garage – performs impressively, returning all manner of shots fired its way by its human and very competent Ping-Pong opponent.
To see the robot pushed to the limit, jump ahead to the 1:40 mark and marvel at the way it deals calmly and comfortably with a series of powerful smashes.
Hoffmann says it took him two years to get his “DIY Ping-Pong robot” to this stage, though it’s currently only able to play in passive mode. The plan is to create software that’ll allow it to learn and develop its game.
Once Hoffman has finished fine-tuning his remarkable creation, we say let it take on the winner of tomorrow’s big match between Boll and Kuka’s Agilus bot. The contest, which we first heard about last month, celebrates the opening of a new Shanghai production plant belonging to Kuka, a German robot specialist.
Touted as “the fastest robot in the world,” Agilus will be operating from a fixed base when it takes on Boll, a factor which could prove decisive if the German left-hander is to score a historic win for humankind (hint: play it wide and/or short).