Technically talking, this newest Forpheus is definitely a completely new robotic. Whereas earlier fashions tended to reuse a variety of hardware, this new one was apparently constructed from the bottom up simply to play ping pong. That is partly to (lastly) accommodate a full-size desk, however extra curiously, the primary physique is definitely extra compact than earlier than, all of the whereas packing 5 cameras as an alternative of simply three.
Particularly, two of these cameras are centered on monitoring the ball, with one other two on the human participant, plus a high-speed digital camera on the racket. Moreover, the racket is dotted with inexperienced labels on each side to assist the high-speed digital camera — that approach Forpheus can simply establish the kind of spin being utilized to the ball. With this huge imaginative and prescient improve paired with OMRON’s newest automation platform, Forpheus is now significantly better at predicting the human participant’s conduct.
Below the stomach, there is a new multi-axis robotic arm that may higher mimic a human elbow and wrist, which turned out to be a significant benefit for Forpheus: It is now not afraid of spins. However not solely that, the bot may even hit again with its personal topspins and backspins. The quicker servo controllers clearly assist quite a bit, too.
If you have not guessed by now, I let my fellow people down on this ping pong match. I might blame the bigger desk, the incorrect sort of racket, my incorrect outfit for the game, or the truth that I did not sleep in any respect the night time earlier than (ugh); however the reality is, Forpheus was simply too good.
Throughout my final 4 encounters with the machine’s youthful self again in Tokyo, I used to be requested by OMRON’s reps to chorus from delivering spins (it was one thing about maintaining concord between people and robots), and it wasn’t till the fourth technology when it might lastly take smashes. This new one although? My spins have been barely efficient, so I might now not trick Forpheus with my sneaky serves. My rusty table tennis abilities meant that I additionally struggled to deal with among the spins from the robotic — they weren’t aggressive spins, however I used to be constantly thrown off by the truth that this dorky-looking factor might pull this trick off in any respect.
After my embarrassing loss, Forpheus was sort sufficient to supply some helpful suggestions as I mopped up my sweat. As a substitute of simply giving a obscure score, this time the robotic supplied teaching recommendation by evaluating my strikes with an expert participant, and this was illustrated with a stick determine animation for readability. In my case, I knew I missed a number of alternatives to strike, and Forpheus implied that it was to do with my racket’s orientation.
The on-screen report additionally indicated that my strikes have been 78% much like that of an expert participant which, in response to OMRON’s rep, was fairly good — the best rating he noticed at CES to date was a bit of over 80%. Nonetheless, I believe the determine was considerably inflated, however a minimum of it appeared OK on the enormous show at OMRON’s crowded sales space.
With the Tokyo Olympics arising subsequent 12 months, you’d assume OMRON would soar on this chance to advertise its ping pong robotic, however to my shock, a rep was fast to say they haven’t any plans to take part within the sports activities occasion. It is also unclear whether or not OMRON would ever commercialize Forpheus. In any case, the mission has all the time solely been a showcase for the corporate’s industrial automation, mechanical design plus AI prowess.
As for me, I’ve my very own upgrading to do earlier than my subsequent match with Forpheus. Simply too unhealthy that I can not deliver the machine house to apply with.