Despite all the paranoid talk of robots overtaking mankind, at least we can still beat them in ping-pong.
German table tennis champ Timo Boll proved as much when he recently squared off against a one-armed robot developed by German robotics company Kuka. Boll won the match 11 to 9.
Sure, video of the clash was nothing more than an overproduced publicity stunt to celebrate the opening of Kuka’s new Shanghai factory, but the duel had its charm. Known as KUKA KR AGILUS, the robot was originally designed to pack boxes before taking a whack at table tennis.
“The KUKA KR AGILUS demonstrates its skills with the table tennis racket — a realistic vision of what robots can be capable of in the future,” Kuka explained. “The collaboration celebrates the inherent speed, precision, and flexibility of KUKA’s industrial robots in tandem with Boll’s electrifying and tactical prowess in competition.”
Thanks to his celebrity in China, where table tennis is quite popular, Boll was appointed brand ambassador in Kuka Robotics in China. In February, the company released a teaser trailer for the match, which quickly racked up more than 1.7 million views on YouTube.
“Wherever I go, people talk to me and bring up the movie,” Boll said, according to the Independent. “The campaign is more than just fun; it promotes the sport of table tennis worldwide.”