Saturday, March 22, 2014

Man vs. robot in ping-pong match

On May 11, 1997, an IBM supercomputer named Deep Blue defeated world champion chess player Garry Kasparov at his own game. It was a milestone moment for the computer industry.
Last week, the latest major man vs. technology event pitted German professional table tennis player Timo Boll against KUKA Robot Group’s KUKA KR Agilus industrial robot in a promotional table tennis match.
KUKA initially implied that the March 11 event, timed with the opening of a new factory in Shanghai, China, would be a live matchup. But it turned out that the build-up was for the release of a short film depicting a ping-pong matchup between man and machine.
The nearly 4-minute film is heavily edited, so it’s hard to tell how real a match it was. In the match, Agilus takes an early lead, but Boll comes from behind to win.
So, it would appear, that man has the upper hand for now in this human vs. tech matchup.
KUKA has hired Boll to be a brand ambassador for its industrial robots.
KUKA isn’t the only one with a ping pong-playing robot.
Earlier this month, industrial mechanic Ulf Hoffmann showed off his table-tennis robot in a 3-minute YouTube video.

Related websites on KUKA Robotics: 

KUKA website

KUKA Robotics page on Facebook

Related reading on Kasparov vs. Deep Blue: 

Deep Blue: 15 years after IBM’s supercomputer beat the chess world’s champ (The Verge; May 11, 2012)

Deep Blue (Wikipedia)

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