January 5, 2015
This robot will beat you at beer pong
John Hopton for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Robots have already begun to take us on at soccer, ping pong and Flappy Bird. Now they have turned to beer pong, and are set to challenge not only our dominance of the bar sport but our manliness too.As this video from Empire Robotics shows, their Versaball robot puts in an absolutely flawless beer pong performance:
Following the news of the robot that can independently teach itself to cook just by watching YouTube, can we expect a future of droids hanging around bars trying to hustle? Learning beer pong on YouTube doesn’t sound as efficient as actually being there on the ground, so it may not be long before Versaball puts some drinkers’ noses out of joint.
Not content with just being better than us at beer pong, the robot does it with style. Rather than appearing as the geeky guy who is not really in his natural environment and joins in with jerky, awkward movements, Versaball picks up the ball and then smoothly rocks back into position, jutting its chest out as if to say: “Ahh, you ladies might wanna see this.”
Having crushed at beer pong with more swagger than all the jocks who are now stumbling around and telling their usually roughhouse buddies that they love them, Versaball can perform one more display of dominance. When one of the drunk a-holes knocks a girl’s drink over, Versaball will be straight over there to do its primary job of picking stuff up that we don't want to.
Versaball technology avoids the complex designs needed to give robotic hands the required dexterity, and at the same time avoids potential damage by using a simple yet inspired system within the malleable green ball that constitutes its ‘gripper.’
In Empire Robotics’ words: “The green ball is filled with a sand like material. When air is pumped into the ball, the ball softens. The ball is then pushed against the target object. Pulling air out of the ball jams the sand like material together, causing the ball to harden. This transition from soft to hard creates the gripping forces.”
Being covered in a cut-resistant material, Versaball can pick up sharp objects such as broken glass and even be slashed with a knife without suffering damage. It can grip things tightly and securely by moulding its shape around them.
Empire Robotics will have a booth at CES 2015 in Las Vegas from January 6-9, where Versaball will take on top beer pong professionals (yep, such a thing exists) and champions, as well as any other challenger fancying their chances of not being publically shamed.
And just in case Versaball comes across as a thug with all its picking up broken glass and killing at bar sports, Empire Robotics would like the world to know that the robot is capable of a range of grip strengths, gently dealing with porous and delicate parts and avoiding the pinch marks left by other robotic gripping devices. With a softer side too, Versaball really could give male bar-goers of the world something to think about.