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Play beer pong against a robot

If this Kickstarter bot makes it to the mainstream, fraternity parties will never be the same.

Erin Carson Former Senior Writer
Erin Carson covered internet culture, online dating and the weird ways tech and science are changing your life.
Expertise Erin has been a tech reporter for almost 10 years. Her reporting has taken her from the Johnson Space Center to San Diego Comic-Con's famous Hall H. Credentials
  • She has a master's degree in journalism from Syracuse University.
Erin Carson
2 min read

Pongbot gives beer pong players a moving target.

Red Cup Ventures, LLC

If you woke up this morning and wondered what the robots are up to, we have the answer: playing beer pong.

In case you've managed to the frat-tastic party tradition thus far in your life, beer pong is a game in which players try to toss ping-pong balls into beer-filled plastic cups across a table. Make a shot and your opponent has to drink. The stated goal is to get rid of your opponent's cups before they get rid of yours. The real goal is to drink.

Now, there's a Kickstarter for a something called Pongbot. It's basically a motorized cup holder that can roam around the table, adding movement to the challenge of landing a ping-pong ball in a cup.

There are two modes for play. In Auto mode, the Pongbot will move and spin randomly in any direction at any time, so that the shooter never knows where it is going. In Manual mode, your opponent controls the motion with a tank-style handheld remote control. So it's you against your friend or you against the machine. And lucky for you and your dulled motor skills, Pongbot's sensors keep it away from the table's edge so it won't drive off the surface.

Kickstarter funds will go toward producing the robot molds as well as the initial inventory, according to a video on the page. A pledge of $40 or more will get you your very own Pongbot set. The campaign hopes to raise $100,000 in about a month. Estimated delivery is December 2016.

Pongbot's inventors, Alan Dorfman and Jayson Esterow, have backgrounds in the toy business. Dorfman told CNET that he and Esterow saw the idea in the notebook of a couple of Esterow's colleagues, who are professional inventors. The only notation was "edge-sensing device for beer pong cup."

"I think the light bulb went off in both our heads immediately, and we asked for rights to develop the item," Dorfman said. They added LED lights at the base, the two modes and an add-on caddie for additional cups.

This isn't the first time folks have tried to improve upon beer pong. Our own CNET Appliances gang used their collection of robot vacuums to play beer pong in July. Boston-based Empire Robotics built an arm that sinks ping-pong balls with more precision than anyone you knew in college. There's even a beer pong arcade game -- sans alcohol.

Maybe this is how the robots take over the world -- the human race is too schnockered to fight back.