China’s ping-pong robot

Students at China’s Zhejiang University build a pair of humanoid robots that can play a pretty good game of table tennis.

They named them as Wu and Kong and they are 158 cm tall and weigh about 60 kilos. Their 120 frames per second camera eyes feed real-time images of the ball to their processors with a high-speed industrial-automation Ethernet technology, Wu and Kong take some 50 to 100 milliseconds to respond to the ball’s speed and trajectory, knocking it back to the other side of the table. Their margin of error is just over a centimetre, according to their head designer at the university’s robot lab.

They can serve and hit the ball with a forehand or backhand swing.

Wu and Kong, the third generation of pong bots in a four-year project, don’t have fancy footwork to match human aces.

But the researchers want to continue developing them as a robotics development platform, not necessarily to humiliate professional players–the stated goal of the Robo-Cup robot soccer tournament.


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