Are robots destined to beat humans at everything? Maybe not or at least not yet. Chinese industrial robotics company Kuka hosted what may be the first-ever man versus robot (arm) table tennis match and finally revealed the results in this video.
Kuka’s Agilus robot arm, took on German Table Tennis champ and former number one player in the world Timo Boll on March 11. Unfortunately, the match wasn’t streamed live. Instead, the China-based Kuka filmed the match for a commercial and then sliced and diced it into the final cut you see above. Much of the action is in slow-motion, which may be because Boll and Kuka’s Agilus move too quickly to be caught on a camera running at regular speed.
Yes, Boll apparently came out on top in the match, which was held in Sofia, Bulgaria, but there’s no way to know if it was one continuous match or a series of scripted shots. It’s also unclear how the robot is tracking the Ping-Pong ball. Kuka’s website does not list visual sensors as part of Agilus’s feature set, which may mean the robot used external sensors to track the tiny orange ball.
Based on the video (and the not-very-informative “making of” clip the company released later), it looks like the 114-pound, six-axis robot has the speed, mobility and reach (nearly 3 feet) to hold its own against Boll. In the video, it goes six-up before Boll comes roaring back to beat Agilus by one point.
Kuka created the video to promote the opening of its new robot-building facility in Shanghai, China.
Mashable contacted Kuka for more information about the “match” and Agilus, but has yet to receive a response. In the meantime, let’s score one for humankind, or at least one very athletically gifted man…. see more