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Ping-pong playing robot dazzles China’s grand trade fair

(People's Daily Online)    14:48, November 08, 2018

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The China International Import Expo (CIIE) currently underway in Shanghai is full of out-of-the-ordinary technology. From material handling robots and multi-function robots to intelligent vision and access control robots and collaborative robots, the Expo’s AI showroom is a smorgasbord of stuff that shows how technology will soon impact our lives.

But a robot called Forpheus may be the coolest and most memorable one. The ping-pong-playing robot from Japanese technology company Omron drew large crowds each time it was put into action for demonstration.

The robot is big, close to 10 feet tall. To see it play with a human is fabulous, as it handles speed, ball spin, and angles to return the ball very well. It can predict the trajectory of the ball and hit the ball back and even project the landing point to keep the game going smoothly.

According to Omron staff at the Expo, the robot uses a combination of cameras and artificial intelligence software such as time-series deep learning AI technology to track the ball and determine how to hit it back, all within 1/1000 of a second. Sensors on the machine measure the position of its opponent and the movement of the ball 80 times per second, Chengdu Business Daily reported.

The staff said the machine strives to help more people enjoy ping-pong and make them better players. Deep learning software has equipped it with the functionality to make judgments about its opponent’s playing level and return the ball accordingly. Therefore, it is smart enough to deal with the smashes that advanced players throw at it but can also take it easy for beginners who might struggle with this advanced opening play.

The Expo is a good spot for the machine to visit as China has long been a dominant player in global ping-pong competitions and the sport is wildly popular among Chinese. Let’s wait and see if the ping-pong playing robot will have a good future in China!

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Jiang Jie, Bianji)

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