Now robots can do everything; write poetry, cook food, serve coffee, conduct orchestras, perform surgery, draw tattoos, and even play ping pong. Well, that does not mean that all the artists and professionals should be scared as the robots have yet to reach the level of human intellect and perfection. Around the start of this year, we heard of a robotic table tennis coach FORPHEUS.
FORPHEUS (Future Omron Robotics Technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic Theoretics) won the Guinness World Record for being the ‘first robot table tennis tutor.’ The robot is not just a tutor, but the fourth generation version aims to “draw out human capability.” The newest model that was revealed this year comes with the added serve and smash-handling capability.
A press release by Omron says,
“The robot was developed with the goal of allowing more people to enjoy rallies and have their capabilities pushed—creating a machine that understands the characteristics of a person and will adapt its dealings with him/her accordingly.”
The company wants to make the automated ping pong game more even-handed, so the robot is embedded with a human body sensor that detects and analyzes its opponent’s movement. The algorithm is accelerated to track the ball, and it can handle smashes as fast as 25 to 50 miles an hour.
The robot may have become advanced, but it is no match for the Japanese table tennis champion Jun Mizutani. The robot and Mizutani went head to head at the Tokyo tech fair, and the FORPHEUS failed to retrieve the champion’s shot. Mizutani later commented, “One day it might hit back.”
Here is a video from one of the robot’s matches at the CEATEC 2017.