I Will Defeat You, Air Hockey Robot

There comes a time in every man’s life when he suddenly realizes what he was born to do.

Like most adults who play air hockey more than once a year, I consider myself the best air hockey player alive. I’m sure 80% of you missed the first half of that sentence and are already in the comments typing BULLSHIT BRANDON I’M THE BEST AIR HOCKEY PLAYER. It’s the nature of the game. The Japanese have compromised that delicate balance of machismo by creating an air hockey robot capable of inhuman speed and accuracy, as well as adaptive reasoning.

We’re through the looking glass, people.

Japanese researchers at Chiba University’s Namiki Lab have developed an air-hockey robot that is skillful enough to compete against human players. It’s not the first air-hockey robot developed, but the team led by Professor Akio Namiki has upped the ante: their robot changes its strategy based on its human opponent’s playing style.

The system consists of an air-hockey table, a Barrett four-axis robotic arm, two high-speed cameras, and an external PC. It builds on the lab’s work with high-speed tracking. Previously, the researchers (in collaboration with University of Tokyo’s Ishikawa Oku Lab) paired a ultrafast vision system with a dexterous robot hand to juggle balls and fold towels, but here it tracks the puck and opponent’s paddle. The position data from the camera images is then processed by the external PC, which determines the robot’s next move. The robot is tracking the game at an insanely fast rate of 500 frames per second. Which means that, from the robot’s point of view, its human opponent is moving at a laughably slow pace. It’s like the robot is playing the game in a Matrix-style bullet-time frame. (via IEEE Spectrum)

Here’s the monster in action.

Look at him. Look at his smug face.

Let’s make this official: AIR HOCKEY ROBOT, I’M CALLING YOU OUT. A best 2-out-of-3 series, me and you, to determine who is the best air hockey playing robot of all time. Anytime, any place. Make it happen. Also, if we play in that one movie theater in Cleveland I guarantee I’ll beat you in two straight.