A team from the Technical University of Darmstadt in Germany built a robotic ping pong player. It consists of an arm suspended from the ceiling with a camera to watch the area. Team leader Katharina Muelling physically made the movements for several ball returns then the bot improvised. Within an hour, it had an 88% success rate.
While others have taught robots to play table tennis, the biomimetic robot is the first that was taught this way. They plan to display the sportsbot at next month's AAAI Symposium in Arlington, Virginia.
A team at RMIT has designed the Joggobot, an autonomous flyer that is meant to encourage activity. It works in companion mode as a friend to hang with or coach mode that pushes you to do more. The device was built out of a drone and reprogrammed to respond to the jogger's shirt then calculate position and distance. A built-in camera can capture the runner's movements. Still being developed, we hope they find a way to turn it into a Marty McFly hoverboard and get back to us.
This being hockey season, it seems an appropriate time to introduce the world to Jennifer. Built by Prof. Jacky Baltes and University of Manitoba grad students, the hockeybot was named after the Canadian Olympic star Botterill. Created as part of the Robotis competition in Korea, Jennifer is 58cm tall with her skates on and can skate, shook and stickhandle. The team believes that the skating creation will help them better understand traveling over complex surfaces.
This is not the first time that bots played ping pong with each other and humans, but it may be the most impressive. The Vietnamese TOSY introduced Topio, a 1.6 meter tall sports bot that can analyze the ball's path. Their talents, as you can see in the video, include serving fore and back-handed, returning and scoring. With development from Zhejiang University, the project took about 4 years to complete. Their next idea is to develop one to do housework. We'll drink to that.
University of Pennsylvania engineers prepared a one-armed robot to throw out the first pitch before their game with the Milwaukee Brewers April 20. Philliebot pitched to the Philly Phanatic to draw attention to Science Day. Sadly, the pitch didn't quite make its target, only reaching a speed of about 30 - 40 mph which was responded to by boos. Hmmm. Considering the fact that this project probably cost some bucks, maybe someone should have suggested that instead of sending out the recycled Segue they could have utilized a dressed-up instant pitching machine for much less money and a bit less humiliation.
Just in case you missed it, somehow Chevy managed to combine NASA's R2 with football as the astrobot selected his MVPs for this Superbowl. On the pre-game show at 3:18 p.m., his choices were Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers or Troy Polamalu of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Did you notice how they kept him behind a table so that nobody would notics he was legless?
The Chess Terminator, released to the general public last June, went up against World Champ Vladimir Kramnik recently. The champ seemed to take the match with a sense of humor, but we bet that isn't what was going on inside. At one point the human seemed to confuse the chessbot when he placed a pawn between two squares as CT remained motionless. Kramnik then apparently tries to shake um, hands and acknowledge a draw. He then flinches when CT moves again and calls him aggressive. Yeah, we know.
It seems like almost yesterday that robots were being developed for ping pong, but it was back in July, 2008 that we first discovered Robo-Pong. Back then it cost $229.00 for the 540 Table Tennis Robot, but now it is a lot less. The system comes with everything you need to challenge yourself including 48 orange balls.
E.A.R.L. (Enhanced Automatic Robot Launcher), named after Earl Anthony, known in bowling circles as "The Machine," is the second generation of bots designed to assist at
the International Training and Research Center (ITRC) in Arlington, Texas. Replacing Harry, a robot that was built in 1999 and recently retired, E.A.R.L. can consistently toss a ball at a speed of 10 to 24 mph at 50-900 rpm. He recently participated in a game against PBA star Chris Barnes. The bowlbot may be good but Barnes was the victor with a score of 259 - 209. E.A.R.L. will be used to help design lanes, balls and pins.
The RoboCup is an ingenious little device that will return your practice putts, even if you don't quite make the hole. It works at a distance of up to 14 ft., runs on 4 AA batteries (not included) and is good for over 12,000 returns. Designed for any kind of terrain, set it and its accompanying cord up on your carpet or back yard turf and let the practice begin.
This electronic treadmill has an added bonus of nagging you while you exercise. The Electric Walker 3010 from Alinco will comment if you are working too hard or not hard enough and proclaims any change in speed and inclination. It will measure your heart rate by a sensor in the handle and can be adjusted to your needs. Foldable when not in use, the device will set you back ¥50,000 (~$592.00.)
Enjoy soccer but would rather not expend the energy yourself? These RC shoes will compete for you in a heated competition with a bud. Available in red or blue, they are controllable by two levers and buzz around on 4 wheels moving forward, backwards, left or right. The pair comes with 2 goals and balls but you supply the batteries that should give you a running time of about 2 hours. The fancy footwear will set you back £24.95 (~$39.00.)
With all the excitement of the World Cup 2010 and Robot World Cup, doesn't it make you want to gather your own robot horde team to conquer the universe competitors? Elenco's Soccer Robot runs on IR remote with a microprocessor and three motors, two for moving forward, backwards and turning, and one for kicking the ball. The 2-pack kit needs 4 AA and 4 AAA batteries (not included) to rule.
Although China didn't do so well at the World Cup for humans, it did manage to take first place at the Robot World Cup in Harbin. One of its winners commented that "we will see the day when China's football will soar to the sky, no matter whether they are humans or robots." Perhaps they should begin practicing now.