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Classic Games (Games) Robotics

Robots Aim To Top Humans At Air Hockey 177

An anonymous reader writes "You probably knew that the Deep Blue supercomputer beats chess masters, and that last weekend a software robot defeated four poker champions. But you may have missed this one: a GE Fanuc robot is taking on humans at air hockey. The robot is powered by a special PC-board that can instantly switch between 8-bit and its 32-bit modes. The 8-bit version lost to most human players, but the 32-bit microcontroller has defeated even the best human air hockey players by a ratio of three to one."
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Robots Aim To Top Humans At Air Hockey

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  • Shufflepuck (Score:3, Informative)

    by Trogre ( 513942 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:24PM (#24124907) Homepage

    All I can say is:
    "Good shot"

  • by plasmacutter ( 901737 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:30PM (#24125047)

    Honestly, it's not as if some robot is paintaing abstract art or writing poetry here.

    Robots exceeding humans in strength and precision when designed to do so is not news, it's our technology "working as intended".

    If they didn't exceed human strength or precision, i'd expect articles like "engineer blacklisted as incompetent for designing defective robotics"

  • by caffeinemessiah ( 918089 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:35PM (#24125143) Journal

    They didn't really state it was unbeatable, just that it beats human players easily, most of the time.

    Don't know which article you read, but:

    So far, the robot has defeated every human opponent running in 32-bit mode, averaging three times as many goals as human players. The algorithm's success resulted from revising its strategy whenever a goal was scored against it. Some revisions were refinements of strategies, but others were outright fixes to bugs in tactics.

  • Smarter and faster (Score:3, Informative)

    by dj245 ( 732906 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:42PM (#24125297) Homepage
    Probably both. These microcontrollers are designed to calculate corrective action (often very small actions) to processes (such as pipe flow rates, temperatures, etc). When a process deviates from the setpoint, the microcontroller is supposed to calculate the correction (increase control output X slightly). I would say something like this would require some custom coding for the controller, but nothing too crazy. One of the harder parts would be coming up with a good input data method and formatting the input sensor data, since this is a slightly odd application for ths controller.

    as an aside, the automation and control business is still a growing market, and they can never find enough engineers. Many of these jobs involve high travel if you're into that sort of thing.
  • by Actually, I do RTFA ( 1058596 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:44PM (#24125341)

    it's hard to tell if the robot's true advantage lies in being able to analyze the puck's path more quickly than the human players, or is the robot arm simply faster/more powerful/more accurate than a human arm? If the former, then that's pretty cool.

    Why? It's a game where the puck is operating in a near frictionless environment. Hence, the speed can be computed as if it is linear. Of course a robot can more precisely measure time between samples and the location of an object on a fixed plane. So, the calculation of a puck's path had better be more impressive than a human player's.

  • by dougmc ( 70836 ) <> on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @05:48PM (#24125417) Homepage
    Depends on what you mean by `unbeatable'.

    Humans can still score on it occasionally, so they're `beating' it in that sense. But overall, it still wins more than it loses.

    Statistically speaking, if it averages 3x the score of it's opponents, a human should be able to beat it once in a while -- it just hasn't happened yet.

  • Re:Boring... (Score:5, Informative)

    by Hojima ( 1228978 ) on Wednesday July 09, 2008 @10:46PM (#24128701)

    From wikipedia:

    Non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse (NNEMP) is an electromagnetic pulse generated without use of nuclear weapons. There are a number of devices to achieve this objective, ranging from a large low-inductance capacitor bank discharged into a single-loop antenna or a microwave generator to an explosively pumped flux compression generator. To achieve the frequency characteristics of the pulse needed for optimal coupling into the target, wave-shaping circuits and/or microwave generators are added between the pulse source and the antenna. A vacuum tube particularly suitable for microwave conversion of high energy pulses is the vircator.

  • by cgenman ( 325138 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @12:34AM (#24129555) Homepage

    it's designed to upsell 32 bit processors. Annoyingly enough, it just takes x,y coordinates from a vision system, estimates trajectories, and outputs position data to a robotic arm. Really, you should be able to compile code on the nes to do that. It calculates three rebounds? That seems somehow like an easy task if you're being fed realtime position information.

    Color me amused but unimpressed. It is a great ad, but an ad nonetheless.

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Thursday July 10, 2008 @04:16AM (#24130921)

    "How is a robot supposed to get a bear to stand still and open its mouth to throw in a ping pong ball?"


    Bears *love* marshmallows. They will do anything for a sweet squishy marshmallow. []

    But I think that after teaching a bear that small white things are sweet and then you toss in a ping pong get what you deserve after that.


Only God can make random selections.