This robot can beat you at foosball

Swiss researchers made a robot that will put your foosball skills to shame.

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

Could you take a robot in a game of foosball?

Anya Semenoff, Denver Post via Getty Images


They just won't let us have anything.

They're coming for our jobs. They're teaching our kids. Now, they're beating us at foosball.

Researchers at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland designed a robot that can beat humans at everyone's favorite dormitory game. The EPFL researchers who designed the robot didn't immediately respond to a request for comment as to why they built the system, but they may have been busy enjoying a human-machine match.

A camera underneath the table takes 300 pictures a second and sends them to a computer that processes the ball's position on the table. Motors -- the kind used in manufacturing -- move the players and take shots. Those shots are faster, more powerful and more precise.

No surprise. The human opponents are losing.

What's more, the researchers want to make another robot so the pair can play each other.

That's how the world ends: a war between two angry foosball-playing robots.

The goal-scoring Swiss system isn't the world's only competitive robot.

Scientists in Japan built a robot that can fence. In 2014, a robot came close to beating the No. 1 table tennis player in the world in a 9-10 game. There's even a tiny robot that can do a quadruple backflip and stick the landing.

Brawn isn't everything, either. Earlier in the year, Google's DeepMind artificial intelligence outfit beat the Go world champion, a game more complicated than chess, in a five-game match.

So, how long before robots start turning up at the Olympics? Technically, DARPA's terrifying cheetah robot can run faster than Olympic gold medalist Usain Bolt.

Brace yourselves.