News & Opinion | March 2, 2017 9:00 am

This Ping-Pong Robot Learns Your Skill Level, Then Whups You

No game room is safe

We all know that Prince was the undisputed ping-pong champion of the world. But now that he has passed (R.I.P.), there is an opening for a contender.

Enter Forpheus.

Well, technically you would enter, because Forpheus is a stationary robot positioned over a ping-pong table. But once you wield a paddle and hit a ball its way, you’re going down.

The Guinness World Record holder for “first robot table tennis tutor,” Forpheus was designed by Taku Oya and his team at Japanese electronics company Omron. It uses vision and motion sensors to determine the skill level of the person playing — through their movement and that of the ball — and adjusts accordingly.

Yes, as the Guinness title and Oya point out, this is a teaching tool more than a Deep Blue-like robot built to challenge the best human competitors. But take a look at the impossibly fast movements Forpheus executes in the video above and tell me ping-pong champions wouldn’t wet themselves a little in a face-off.

“At the moment it is a human who teaches a robot how to behave or teach, but in the next 20 years it may be possible that a robot teaches a robot or develops a robot,” says Oya about future developments.

Robot apocalypse kickstarted by ping-pong. Did not see that coming.