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

October 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.

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: Robots Playing Shuffleboard (w/ video)

More information: via Xinhuanet

Related Stories

Robots Playing Shuffleboard (w/ video)

June 8, 2011

( -- Intense robot battles have, for the most part, been confined to the silver screen. Occasionally a robot comes by to trounce us at chess, but robot on robot competition has been fairly limited. In this case ...

Kilobots bring us one step closer to a robot swarm

June 17, 2011

( -- When you think about robots, the odds are that you think about something that is fairly large. Maybe you picture a robot arms bolted to the floor of a factory or if you are feeling particularly dramatic maybe ...

Thanks to RoboEarth the bots can learn on their own

February 10, 2011

( -- We tend to assume that robots need human input in order to understand the world around them. In the near future humans may not even be a part of the robotic-learning equation. Soon, robots will be able to ...

iRobot planning an Android-based robot

May 12, 2011

( -- iRobot is working on robots that have the brains of an Android tablet. The goal is an Android-based tablet that is able to see the world around it, hear input from humans, respond and think about the next ...

It's a bird, it's a plane, it's a robot bird (w/ video)

March 29, 2011

( -- The great thing about robots is that they come in all shapes and sizes. Of course, that is also one of the creepiest things about robots too. You never know what is going to be a robot these days. There are ...

Recommended for you

NASA instruments image fireball over Bering Sea

March 22, 2019

On Dec. 18, 2018, a large "fireball—the term used for exceptionally bright meteors that are visible over a wide area—exploded about 16 miles (26 kilometers) above the Bering Sea. The explosion unleashed an estimated 173 ...

Paleontologists report world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex

March 22, 2019

University of Alberta paleontologists have just reported the world's biggest Tyrannosaurus rex and the largest dinosaur skeleton ever found in Canada. The 13-metre-long T. rex, nicknamed "Scotty," lived in prehistoric Saskatchewan ...

Coffee-based colloids for direct solar absorption

March 22, 2019

Solar energy is one of the most promising resources to help reduce fossil fuel consumption and mitigate greenhouse gas emissions to power a sustainable future. Devices presently in use to convert solar energy into thermal ...


Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

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?
5 / 5 (1) Oct 16, 2011
I bet those robots suck at ballroom dancing.
Oct 16, 2011
This comment has been removed by a moderator.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.