Ping-pong robots debut in China (w/ video)

Oct 15, 2011 by Nancy Owano weblog
Ping-pong robots debut in China (w/ video)

( -- Last week some oohs and ahhs were in order as two ping-pong playing robots made their debut at Zhejiang University in China. The two robots played against each other and with humans. True, this was not the first time the world witnessed robots playing table tennis. There was Topio, a robot made by Vietnamese robotics firm, TOSY.

Topio was a Terminator-looking robot with a chiseled torso and formidable size. Its processors and were able to analyze the ball’s path. There was elsewhere a show of flying quadrocopters whacking the ball back to a human player at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology's Flying Machine Arena in Zurich.

Last week's debut of the robots in China was impressive nonetheless.

The Zhejiang University robots served, returned balls, and scored with the aid of their technology. Each robot has motorized joints that provide backhand and forehand capabilities and a number of arm movements. Each is 1.6 meters tall and weighs 55 kg.

Xiong Rong, the director of the university's Robotics Laboratory, said the 30-joint robots took them four years to develop.

Ping-pong robots debut in China (w/ video)

Setting out to create robots who can play a game like ping-pong is challenging enough; the game requires especially fast response times and fast reflexes. The Chinese team responded to the challenge. They gave the robots eye-mounted cameras that capture 120 images per second. The images are transferred to the robots' and they respond, calculating the ball's position, speed, angle, landing position and path. Overall, the university team responsible for the robots is being credited as having come up with an identification and positioning system of enough merit to compete with human players.

This video is not supported by your browser at this time.

If intuition is an edge for human players, the robots use mechanical precision to contend. According to reports, their ability to predict the ball's landing position is quite accurate, with a margin of error of 2.5 cm.

Still, reports say that more advanced ping-pong players with special skills can beat the robots, even with the robots’ accuracy and fast speed. The robots cannot perform complicated ping-pong techniques such as slicing and curving.

The program of Zhejiang University is part of a high-tech development plan, designed by the Ministry of Science and Technology, to stimulate the development of advanced technology in biotechnology, information technology and automation. The two robots are described as an exercise to demonstrate the range of possibilities of robotic technologies. The university also aims to develop robots that can do housework.

Explore further: Future US Navy: Robotic sub-hunters, deepsea pods

More information: via Xinhuanet

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User comments : 10

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5 / 5 (2) Oct 15, 2011
....well, I don't know about you guys, but I cannot wait to have my very own ping pong playing robot.

If I am feeling kinky it will double as a spank bot.
4.8 / 5 (49) Oct 15, 2011
....well, I don't know about you guys, but I cannot wait to have my very own ping pong playing robot.

If I am feeling kinky it will double as a spank bot.

Just make sure you're wearing pants around those things! (assuming you're a guy)
not rated yet Oct 15, 2011
I didnt believe it till I saw it......I didnt knew humans can do something like that.
5 / 5 (4) Oct 15, 2011
So it can play ping pong, but the bigger question is: will it blend?
not rated yet Oct 15, 2011
Congrats to the team.
lol to all comments.

Here is world rank begging.
Former 127th in the world here.

And chess? Hmmm.
Elo 2400 - a dime a dozen.
5 / 5 (1) Oct 15, 2011
Hey, I'll take 2400! Any day! Try me out on Red Hot Pawn, sonhouse.
not rated yet Oct 16, 2011
I read into your comment:
"Hey, I'll take ON 2400! And day!"...
...and got cold feet. I might, thks.
5 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2011
I bet those robots suck at ballroom dancing.
not rated yet Oct 16, 2011
This tournament was PO: Paraplegics Only.
The special Olympics offers an fair competition in this case.
1 / 5 (2) Oct 16, 2011
Meanwhile, back in America...

Oct 16, 2011
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