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Robotics Toys Technology

Sink Your Balls Quickly With Pool-Cue Robots 79

AndreV writes "In another attempt to dehumanize our bar games, a Canadian engineer has turned the classic game of billiards on its head with his BilliardBots pet project, which consists of a series of remote-controlled mobile robots meant to replace the standard cue sticks normally used to pocket pool balls. While in his version the basic rules remain, unlike regular billiards, players in this version simultaneously rush to pocket their designated balls (they don't take turns), 'thus it's very competitive and fast,' the creator says. In order to keep tight reins on the mechatronic ball handlers' movements, he adapted a pair of Playstation controllers and says that playing 'requires dexterity, like a video game,' to control their 3.5-m/sec-maximum speeds. The 'bots are designed simply but effectively, using a 3-by-3-by-3-inch metal frame with an electronic board, two motors and rechargeable battery packs. Using a Bluetooth wireless communication protocol, its commands come from the wireless controller with single or double joystick selectable control (the other buttons are not used). Its other parameters are software programmable, such as maximum acceleration rate, maximum speed and maximum rotation speed."
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Sink Your Balls Quickly With Pool-Cue Robots

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  • Rather Not (Score:5, Funny)

    by arizwebfoot ( 1228544 ) * on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:51PM (#27668401)
    If you don't mind, I'd rather not sink my balls as they've keep me in good stead for 50 years now.
    I would prefer that they were not torpedoed by some cue-stick armed robot.
    My wife concurs and she is bi-polar, going through a nasty bout of menopause and has access to the shotgun.
    Forewarned you overlords of metal.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      Bipolars can be pretty nasty. If she hits you with the (shotgun) butt, will you charge her with battery?
  • Scary title (Score:5, Funny)

    by ender06 ( 913978 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @06:51PM (#27668403)
    I read that as "Skin your balls quickly with pool-cue robots." I quickly became concerned until my brain pointed out the pool-cue part of the title.
  • As a roboticist, I think this is the coolest thing since rocket skates. I can't wait for this to be commercialised.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Gunstick ( 312804 )

      Are you really a roboticist?
      What do you see here which looks like a robot? I see RC cars, and you?

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Facegarden ( 967477 )

      As a roboticist, I think this is the coolest thing since rocket skates. I can't wait for this to be commercialised.

      Real roboticists don't start sentences with "As a roboticist", and if you were a roboticist, you wouldn't care if it was commericialized, you'd just build one. Those robots are not complicated as far as robots go.

      • Maybe by roboticist he means someone that looks forward to Judgement Day when he will be able to sell out the rest of humanity for a fembot and a load of cool gizmos, rather than someone who is working in the field of robotics.

      • Why build it yourself when you can buy off the shelf? It's cheaper and quicker. I've got enough other things to build at the moment. And besides, making robots is my day job - I do other things for fun.
    • I like how everything can be specified programatically without any real-world considerations; I'd love to buy a table, program the maximum speed of my robots to be c + 1, and be the first human to break light speed! I wonder how they accomplished this amazing flexibility.
    • by Hatta ( 162192 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:18PM (#27669977) Journal

      As a roboticist...

      Are those like furries?

  • I thought sinking balls quickly was what you _weren't_ supposed to do...
  • Amusing, but... (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:15PM (#27668663)

    I really don't see any value in this. Pool is a game of finesse, strategy, and ability, not brute forcing balls with robots. I don't know why you'd base it on a billiard/pool table and not something that was purpose built.

    By using robots in this way you're removing what's fun about pool.

    While his foosball table was cool, this is quite silly IMO.

    • brute forcing balls with robots

      ... because it bears repeating.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by jozlod ( 1304051 )
      i would think more so that his game is not billards/pool at all, it just happens that he has decided to use a pool table and make robots that drive around on it into another game. it could actually be a fun thing to add to your pool room, kind of like how kelly pool isnt really pool, but its fun. So imo he has just found another way to use that felt covered table with holes and balls. i do however disagree with him calling it a version of billards. "unlike regular billiard matches, players in this versio
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by pavon ( 30274 )

      I don't know why you'd base it on a billiard/pool table and not something that was purpose built.

      To save floor space and upfront costs for target customers. Flagging sales at you local poolhall/pub? Keep the pool tables for your traditional customers, but have BilliadBots tournaments on tuesdays to attract a younger clientele.

      • Flagging sales at you local poolhall/pub? Keep the pool tables for your traditional customers, but have BilliadBots tournaments on tuesdays to attract a younger clientele.

        I wonder, though, how hard the BilliardBots are on the soft, smooth, delicate felt surface of a pool table.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by hurfy ( 735314 )

      Well, i don't know about worthless as it looks kinda fun.

      But it seems to little to do with pool and/or robots for that matter.

      The robot is barely an RC car, it simply bumps the ball or corrals it into the hole. There is no real aim, no cue ball used and no banking except for lucky (or unbelievably good) shots off that curved bumper.

      If he wanted pool, why doesn't it have a plunger to at least shoot the ball?

      I wonder how hard these are on the felt tho. If it not turnbased, then do they still have avoid the ot

      • It's pointless to compare the two games. It's like saying that polo is not as much fun as soccer because the players hit the ball with a stick and they get to ride horses instead of running.

        Personally, I think it's a great idea that needs marketing. Maybe add some sound and light effects and a pin-ball bumper with a laser pointer to guide it and get the shot just right.

        Post a video if you find one.

    • Pool is a game of finesse, strategy, and ability, not brute forcing balls with robots

      No, it is about 'Market Share' and 'How many eyeballs we can saturate'

      You, obviously have not subscribed to the latest Big Media newsletters!

    • by Hatta ( 162192 )

      Deep Blue vs Kasparov didn't have any practical value either. Maybe that's not the point of these things.

    • In the future, just as we have various chess simulators now, we'll have some kind of pool-stick playing bot to match our own pool-playing skillz against, mano a mano.

      Let this initial implementation serve as prior art.

  • never be the same again.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    Is this related to the "Tea Bagging" parties that Americans seem to be having to protest taxes?

  • Are you telling me that they plan on sinking balls for the next eight years?
  • YES (Score:2, Funny)

    Bring me an asian chick and I will definitely sink my balls...
  • by Gunstick ( 312804 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @07:51PM (#27669091) Homepage

    Remote controlled devices are now robots? Just because robot wars uses RC controlled monsters and calls them robots?
    For me a robot is something where at least some intelligence is done automatically.
    I can't see any robotic thing in these toys.

    So yes, the military and police bomb brobots are no robots, still just remote controlled machines.
    If I remote control an excavator it does not suddenly become a robot.

    • Well ASEA [] says they makes robots. We should let them know they are not in fact robots. I am with you that the term robot, in my mind as well, conveys the sense of at least partial autonomy. Maybe the right term to use for robots with AI should be automaton [] but that doesn't sound as good.

      • The term for these remotely operated things is "waldo".

        • Not necessarily. The term "waldo" is generally restricted to anthropomorphic robots which are controlled by the same part of a human they imitate, such as a robotic hand being controlled by a sensing glove worn by a human. It can also be used to refer to a control mechanism that is a direct extension of an existing control mechanism that is meant to interface with a human, such as recreating a set of full-size controls for a car, and remotely linking them to an actual car.
      • I would accept the term robot for the automats. At least they don't need a human all the time to do the dumb repetitive task. And if the task only requires to repeat stuff, then a "simple" memory what to do is all it needs.

        It seems that today robot means "replacing a human by machine" even if the human still exists an is then just a few steps away.

  • by beanyk ( 230597 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:01PM (#27669235)

    In order to keep tight reins on the mechatronic ball handlers' movements


  • Seriously? (Score:5, Funny)

    by StaticEngine ( 135635 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @08:11PM (#27669337) Homepage

    The only robot I want playing with my balls is portrayed by Summer Glau. But I'll settle for the actual Summer Glau.

  • Not a robot? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    My senior project for my BSEE was to make an actual robot that did this same thing. Each team's robot competed against each other to identify it's own balls and sink them before the other one could. Wish I had the video on youtube or something so you could all see the surprisingly boring competition.

  • c'mon /. LOLZ this is just too easy.
  • ROFLMAO (Score:1, Redundant)

    by MWoody ( 222806 )

    Hee hee balls is another word for testicles!

    • Re: (Score:2, Redundant)

      by Urza9814 ( 883915 )

      ...and you got modded _interesting_?

      What, did somebody not know this fact already? Not make the connection?

      Funny, sure, but _interesting_?

      Man, these mods today...they don't make 'em like they used to...

  • by Jeian ( 409916 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:12PM (#27669901)

    ... I don't think there's going to be a single serious comment in this thread.

  • Queen's also has a pool playing robot. It uses a traditional cue. []
  • ...sink my balls into a robot! Wake me up when there's a Cherry 2000 [] I can nail.
  • Sometimes... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by msauve ( 701917 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @09:50PM (#27670229)
    , I wish /. had a digg-like "lame" moderation category.
  • PLEASE don't let it be this one!

  • When I first saw this thread, I was reminded of an arcade robot game that a few friends of mine designed and put out onto the market...and before anyone says anything, yes I know the dates are a little old on the site, but I know that they're still working on it...being a small player in the arcade gaming business makes it hard to really get started...
    Robotic Amusements - Creators of Robo-Basho []
  • This looks just like the kind of thing they do at those FIRST robotics competitions. So now you know what all the high-school robotics nerds will be doing when they graduate - they'll be hustling robotic pool with their finely-honed skills :-)

    I personally, want to see little robots with saws and flamethrowers. Although that might be a bit hard on the felt...

  • by Dachannien ( 617929 ) on Tuesday April 21, 2009 @10:18PM (#27670407)

    I don't need something that will play the game for me. What fun is that?

    No, what I really need is something that will help me rack my balls quickly.

  • When I read the summary I was expecting some clever system that went around the perimeter of the table and pushed a robotic-controlled cue stick of some sorts. Instead we get what look to be small RC cars with special front ends. This is closer to soccer than it is to pool.

    Now if instead something was built that did go around the perimeter of the table, and shoot in a more-or-less human fashion, that would be intriguing as it would actually be something that a human could play pool against. This is mor
  • "member enlargement" and how ridiculous they sound?

    This entire thread sounds like that.

    (This is an observation, not a criticism.)
  • Cue sticks? I've never heard this phrase used before, is it some kind of Canadianism? Perhaps over there they dig holes with shovel tools and eat bacon with fork utensils, eh.
    • by Sp1n3rGy ( 69101 )
      Finally, something on slashdot I am actually qualified to discuss! haha!

      The white ball is the "cue ball" and the stick is a "cue stick", "pool cue", "cue", etc... All are acceptable. One who builds cues is a "cuemaker." All one word. No space.

      I'm a cuemaker at Carolina Cues [].

  • Bullet Ball FTW! []

"Hey Ivan, check your six." -- Sidewinder missile jacket patch, showing a Sidewinder driving up the tail of a Russian Su-27