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A Robot to Beat Humans at Foosball

Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne

foosball table with transparent bottom

EPFL student Martin Savary views the foosball table whose bottom was replaced by a transparent material.

Credit: YouTube

Students from École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne have developed a foosball-playing robot. The machine uses a computer to control the mechanical movement of its robotic arm and another computer to provide information about the position of the ball.

The team used transparent material for the bottom of the foosball table, and placed a high-speed camera on the ground to film the game board. Image-processing algorithms analyze the movement of the ball in real time, and the information is transmitted to the computer that controls the movement and positioning of the arm. Although the robot cannot perform complex moves, the students plan to continue their development and they say the robot should eventually become more accurate, faster, and more strategic than any player.

"Potentially, the computer can simultaneously analyze many more parameters than a human and process information faster," says project head Christophe Salzmann. "It could simultaneously analyze the location of all players and the exact trajectory of the ball after it ricocheted off the edges. All that remains is to develop a strategy. Ultimately, we could imagine organizing games between interposed robots."

From École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne
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