If you needed any further proof that robots will one day be able to do everything better than us, all you need to do is visit the Empire Robotics booth at this year's CES show. There you would find a robotic arm destroying all comers in that highest testament to our competitive spirit -- beer pong.
Of course, the goal of this display isn't to show off the fact that a robot can play beer pong, it's to highlight the "soft" technology employed by Empire Robotics in creating its machines.
In the video above, you'll see that the mechanized arm picks up each ping-pong ball in a green sphere. That sphere is known as a Versaball and it's filled with sand. When the Versaball is pumped with air, the sand granules can move around freely and form an impression around the objects on which the sphere is placed. Once the ball is in place on top of an object, the system sucks the air out of it, causing the sand grains to tighten around the object, thereby allowing it to be lifted.
As for the accuracy of the arm, Empire Robotics told Yahoo News the robot was calibrated by shooting for the center cup 10 times, then fine adjustments are made to allow it to hit the other cups. "If you watch the video, you will see that the robot does not shoot from the same position each time. It moves according to which cup it's aiming at," Empire Robotics representative John Dean told Yahoo.
Dean said the robot's not perfect, so a human could technically beat it. But, considering the fact that the robot can't drink when it misses a shot, I'd put my money on machine versus man in this case.
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