Menu
Omron ping pong robot won't unseat humanity

Omron ping pong robot won't unseat humanity

A table tennis playing machine can easily be beaten. For now.

Omron's table tennis-playing robot takes on a human opponent. The machine uses computer vision and predictive algorithms to sustain rallies, but sometimes misses when spin is put on the ball.

Omron's table tennis-playing robot takes on a human opponent. The machine uses computer vision and predictive algorithms to sustain rallies, but sometimes misses when spin is put on the ball.

Healthcare electronics maker Omron is showing off its sensing know-how with a huge ping pong-playing robot, but the robot is still easy to beat -- for now.

The 2.7-meter-tall, three-legged beast looked like something out of "The War of the Worlds" as it was taking on human opponents at the Ceatec tech expo outside Tokyo. When it came to actual tennis table chops, however, it was sometimes all thumbs.

Equipped with stereoscopic cameras and computer-vision algorithms to track the position and speed of human players as well as the ball, the machine is designed to be able to play sustained rallies with its ability to predict where the ball will go.

Powered by five servomotors, it grips the paddle with a four-axis manipulator commonly seen in pick-and-place industrial robots. A controller system can respond to serves in 1/1,000th of a second.

"It's been able to return the ball in rallies that have gone back and forth over 100 times," said lead researcher Takuya Tsuyuguchi of Omron's Technology Development Center.

While that was the case with Omron engineers who helped develop and test the machine, which weighs some 600 kg, the average Ceatec attendee seemed to only manage a few strokes that the robot could return.

Add a little power or spin to a return, and the tripod robot would miss. When it did return a serve, it would direct the ball to the easiest spot for a player to return it. Intimidating smashes are not in its program.

"This technology can be used in manufacturing processes where humans and machines can work together to make things," Tsuyuguchi said, adding that he hopes to improve the robot's accuracy.

Earlier this year, industrial robot maker Kuka showed off a lightning-quick industrial robot arm that seemed to defeat table tennis star Timo Boll in a YouTube video.

Follow Us

Join the New Zealand Reseller News newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags roboticsOmron

Slideshows

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016

Reseller News looks back on a tumultuous 12 months for the New Zealand channel, assessing the fallout from a year of sizeable industry change. Whether it be local or global mergers and acquisitions, distribution deals or job changes, the channel that started the year differs somewhat to the one set to finish it - Reseller News assesses the key moments that made 2016.​

Top 50 defining moments of the New Zealand channel in 2016
​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel

Hewlett Packard Enterprise honoured its top performing Kiwi partners at the second running of its HPE Partner Awards in New Zealand, held at a glitzy ceremony in Auckland. Recognising excellence across eight categories - from distributors to resellers - the tech giant celebrated its first year as a standalone company, following its official split from HP in 2015.

​Hewlett Packard Enterprise honours high achieving NZ channel
Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise

Nutanix recently took to the seas for a Christmas Cruise around Sydney Harbour with its Australia and New Zealand staff, customers and partners to celebrate a stellar year for the vendor. With the sun out, they were all smiles and mingled over drinks and food.

Nutanix treats channel partners to Christmas cruise
Show Comments