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This Robot Can Beat You at Table Tennis with Just One Hand

by Lambert Varias

Back in 2011 we featured a couple of humanoid robots designed to play table tennis. Industrial mechanic Ulf Hoffman recently unveiled a similar robot that he and his friends have been working on for the past couple of years. He calls it the Ulf Hoffman Tischtennis Roboter (Ulf Hoffman Table Tennis Robot) or UHTTR-1 for short.

table-tennis-robot-by-ulf-hoffmanzoom in

Update: Heise discovered that the robot and even Ulf Hoffman himself don’t exist; the whole thing was a sham made by two animators.  As you can see the robot’s arm is on a rail mounted at one of the ends of a ping pong table. It’s made of aluminum, making it light enough for its servos to rapidly ferry it across the length of the table. It may only have one arm, but the robot has two things we don’t have: a second pair of eyes. Four cameras mounted at the top corners of the room track the ball’s position and send that data to the UHTTR-1’s software.

table-tennis-robot-by-ulf-hoffman-2zoom in

Ulf hasn’t said much about the robot’s program, but as you can see it has a variety of settings that help define its play style, including speed and spin. It even seems to have difficulty levels. I’m a bit worried about that “Evolve” setting.

We didn’t see it put to the test in the video, but I think you can beat the robot with a well-placed drop shot. Then again when you’re dealing with a robot that can evolve, all bets are off. Grip your browser and head to Ulf’s blog for more on his robot.

[via Laughing Squid]

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