Last year Empire Robotics introduced the Versaball system, which is a robotic system using jamming manipulation. That is a complicated way of saying they’re using bags full of sand to screw in lightbulbs.
Nope, really. Green rubber ball filled with “sand-like material.” Ball inflates with air, expands around any oddly-shaped object you wanna pick up, and then when the air is removed, the suction causes the sand inside to compact and “grip” whatever it is you’re trying to pick up. Previously there were no specific applications for this technology, but as you can see, now you can run the table at your next Mecha Frat Party.
Less clear to me is how the Versaball is programmed. I’m not sure if it uses kinesthetic teaching or something else, but theoretically someone’s going to have to either be sober enough or good enough at beer pong to get it going in the first place.
Also: Is the person setting up the ping-pong balls considered part of the team? Does he have to take turns with the robot? WHAT DO YOU DO TO THE ROBOT IF THE OTHER TEAM MAKES A SHOT? Is there a “drunk goggles” app for the Versaball? I have so many questions. Someone who’s at the Consumer Electronics Show go to Booth 25183 and play beer pong with the robot and get back to me.