Omron’s ping-pong bot wants to soften the robot-human interaction

Japanese robotics company Omron has developed a robotic ping-pong system that looks to approach the human-robot interaction on a gentler level, according to a report from The Verge.

The Forpheus robot, in its 4th generation, was recently shown at the CEATAC trade show with updates that include a companion arm to serve balls in the air and improved AI.

But more importantly, the system also displays inspirational messages on an LED screen that replaces the table net. The improvement led to the device being listed as the world’s 1st robot table tennis tutor by the Guinness Book of World Records, according to The Verge.

The system operates with an AI-controlled robotic arm on a 5-axis motor system, with 2 cameras mounted on each side to aid in identifying ping pong balls in a way that mimics the stereoscopic vision humans use to locate objects in 3D space. Omron claims the system can detect a ball’s speed and rotation up to 80 times per second, allowing it to predict trajectory, according to the report.

A secondary camera in the center evaluates the player’s movement and judges their skill level, to adjust appropriately, The Verge reports.

Improvements aside, the company is touting the system as a friendly teaching apparatus, and has created a video advertising the robots humanity over its capabilities.

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