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The Future Of Table Soccer May Lie In Robotics

While most foosball game enthusiast have a hard time believing that a robot foosballer could ever beat a human foosballer, there are a couple of projects in universities that have built a few that can do just that. Rice University in Houston Texas and the University of Adelaide have both built robots that have never been beaten by a human. In all fairness; however, the robots, which are actually robotic foosball tables, have never played a professional level foosball player. There were several projects like this at various schools, like the University of Freiburg in Germany.

Human Defense Was Lacking

A video illustrated a robotic table foosball wonder at work against a human opponent and the machine scored several times. It was fascinating to watch how smoothly the machine passed the ball around and the lightning speed with which it shot the goals. The human player did not try to defend his goal very well, though and often never moved to try to block, which took the value of the robot’s capabilities down several notches.

A Guessing Game

In 2008, a computer controlled foosball table was created by students at the University of Illinois that showed real promise. An overhead camera sent signals to the computer as to what moves to make. The problem of latency, or delay from the camera to actual play meant that the computer had to program ahead, using calculations to “guess” where the ball would be a few seconds before the ball was actually there. These amazing, constant calculations were very accurate.

Single Player Foosball

TablesWhile most projects were halted due to the enormous expenses involved in making any more progress than they had already attained, it does bring up one possibility for the future of the soccer table and tabletop gaming in general. Will there soon be arcade foosball tables that will allow human players to play against the machine for a few quarters? What a great way to hone your game.

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Keywords: Technology, Robots


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