First it was chess, then Jeopardy and Go. It seems no game is safe from our robot overlords.
Researchers at the Swiss ecole polytechnique federale de Lausanne (EPFL) have created a robot foosball table that can beat humans who have an average skill level. The system is currently able to detect the ball, stop it and then shoot towards the goal.
Here’s how it works. A 300 frames per second camera, located under the foosball table’s transparent floor, follows the ball and sends the images to a computer for processing. Linear motors then move the players into striking position, and another motor rotates the players to shoot the ball.
The EPFL said the motors are precise to less than a millimeter and can generate 9g in acceleration, moving faster than their human opponent.
“It’s a very basic strategy, but it works surprisingly well,” said Christophe Salzmann, the scientist in charge of the project.
“At this stage, the system is like a bodybuilder with a tiny brain,” Salzmann joked. “But in addition to being strong, we want the robot to be able to fake out the opponent, steer clear of the opponent, and predict the ball’s path and the opponent’s position.”
EPFL students are working on these improvements by installing lasers that can detect the position of the opponents’ handles. This is what the robot foosball table needs to be able to apply a real strategy.
So it appears foosball, like so many other games, will soon be dominated by robots. But at least we still have soccer.