Professional table tennis player Timo Boll is set to compete with German robotics manufacturer Kuka’s fastest robotic arm in a table tennis match.
It is one thing to showcase the capabilities of a new robot using simple demonstration. But it is an entirely different thing to pit a machine against what could be perceived as a versatile and skilled human player.
Nevertheless, Kuka Robotics wanted to show off just how quick and responsive its fastest robotic arm is, pitting the KR Agilus against German professional table tennis player Timo Boll. Instead of its usual array of industrial tools, this pile of metal will be custom programmed to be able to hold and effectively use a ping-pong paddle in a table tennis match.
The KR Quantec series Agilus has a maximum reach of 3901mm, has a +/- 0.06mm precision rate, and boasts six degrees of freedom. All of these technical specs though, would have to be utilized in the most efficient way, in order to recreate the speed and skill needed to play table tennis competitively.
At the other corner, Timo Boll has been playing table tennis at a very young age. In his professional career, he had at one time the opportunity to rank number one in World Rankings, and he is still currently the top champion in the German Table Tennis National League.
The contest itself is scheduled on March 11, 2014, in celebration for the grand opening of Kuka Robotics’ new manufacturing facility in Shanghai, China. Would human versatility win against the machine? Or would the machine be able to exhaust the human player into submission? We’ll find out next month.