Robot That Can Beat You at Badminton: Students and professors at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China have built a robot that can play badminton as well as any amateur.
The robot employs a mix of cameras, motion sensors, and a novel navigation algorithm to blitz through Chinese robotics contests while piling up the victories
The Robomintoner, as its makers name it, was aptly built via the spirit of competitiveness. The UESTC team was tasked with constructing a badminton-playing bot for the Asia-Pacific Robocon 2015, where robots will square off against each other in doubles bouts. “We were the only team who created this robot fully automated. We are in the business of inventing innovative devices. We may as well make it totally intelligent,” stated Huang Xi, a student from the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China, at the time.
The robot has become something of a celebrity in China, an incident known to happen from time to time. It has played ceremonial matches against Dong Jiong, an Olympic medal-winning badminton player. Recently, it took on table tennis champion Wang Liqin. Although out of his comfort zone, Liqin claimed he was “amazed” by the robot’s speed and skill.
With two high-definition cameras functioning as its eyes, the Robomintoner monitors the shuttlecock—the badminton counterpart of a ball. It projections a trajectory and then transfers that information to a mobile platform using Bluetooth, which subsequently coordinates the robot’s actual movements. This is significant because, as mechatronics professor at UETSC Luo Deyuan argues, “[c]urrently there’s no ideal mechanism in the world for a robot to locate itself indoors.”
Robots that can win at chess and Go frequently capture the major headlines with their dynamic capacity to learn, while the jock robots performing sports could appear more like one-trick ponies. Nonetheless, table tennis player Liqin noted that robots might soon be used as practice partners for elite-level sportsmen after witnessing the robot in action. Robomintoners might fast become the standard if the UETSC team works on promoting and selling Robomintoners as early as feasible.