Robots are already capable of having jobs at factories, act as dogs in the army and now, it appears, they’re ready to rule the table tennis court, too.
Two awesome pingpong-playing humanoid robots named Wu and Kong debuted earlier this month at Zhejiang University in China where they showed off their skills in front of engineers and journalists.
The twin 1.5 meter, 50 kilogram robots have 30 individually-powered joints, giving them an impressive range of motion. Each arm, for example, can move in seven directions, according to the university’s description. Key to their ability to serve and return balls with forehands, backhands, and stoic focus are eye-mounted cameras that predict the path of the ball so the robot get can ready for the next shot.
Each camera captures 120 images per second, which are transferred to the robots’ processors that calculate the balls’ position, speed, angle, landing position and path, the Xinhuanet news agency reports.
It takes 50 to 100 milliseconds for the robots to respond and their ability to predict the balls’ landing position has a margin of error of just less than an inch.[wp-like-locker theme="grey" url="http://www.facebook.com/unitedacademics" message="MOVIE: Please (re-)like us here to immediately see the movie of the awesome ping-pong robots in action."]
As shown in this video, the robots can play with each other as well as humans. However, the robots lack the ability to curve, shank, or slice the ball, noted Zhang Yfeng, one of the designers.[/wp-like-locker]
The team hopes to improve the table tennis ability of the robots, though the game isn’t the ultimate goal. Instead, they hope to transfer the technology next-gen helper robots, such as those envisioned for elder care.