Oct 20, 2022

Watch Google’s Ping-Pong robot pull off a 340-hit rally

Posted by in categories: robotics/AI, virtual reality

As if it weren’t enough to have AI tanning humanity’s hide (figuratively for now) at every board game in existence, Google AI has got one working to destroy us all at Ping-Pong as well. For now they emphasize it is “cooperative,” but at the rate these things improve, it will be taking on pros in no time.

The project, called i-Sim2Real, isn’t just about Ping-Pong but rather about building a robotic system that can work with and around fast-paced and relatively unpredictable human behavior. Ping-Pong, AKA table tennis, has the advantage of being pretty tightly constrained (as opposed to playing basketball or cricket) and a balance of complexity and simplicity.

“Sim2Real” is a way of describing an AI creation process in which a machine learning model is taught what to do in a virtual environment or simulation, then applies that knowledge in the real world. It’s necessary when it could take years of trial and error to arrive at a working model — doing it in a sim allows years of real-time training to happen in a few minutes or hours.

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