Forget About Ever Winning an Air Hockey Game Again

Photo from

Photo from

Remember that time just last week when we told you about robots doing stuff? Oh, and remember that other time we told you about that Japanese robot goalkeeper that blocked some of Lionel Messi’s penalty kicks and those other robots fighting each other on TV? Wait … do we have a weird robot obsession around here? Huh.

Whatever. Don’t judge us.

But anyway — robots man! Why do we keep building them to take our jobs/beat us in sports/make us feel bad about ourselves? Take for instance a research team at Chiba University, which has recently developed a robot that will own you in air hockey. Why aren’t these scientists doing something more valuable with their time than designing the most dominant air hockey playing robot ever? Because Japan.

And if you are thinking to yourself right now (like many of you are), “eh, I could take that robot.” You are wrong, my friend. You are so wrong.

This robot doesn’t just play air hockey against you. It “changes its strategy based on its human opponent’s playing style.” Yeah, you read that right. As the blog IEEE Spectrum reports, it gets worse.

“Basically, the robot observes the speed and position of the player’s paddle in relation to the puck. This data can be described by what is known as a Motion Pattern Histogram (MPH). The robot uses this data to estimate whether its opponent is playing aggressively or defensively. Over the course of a game, the robot can detect these MPHs in real-time and compare them with reference patterns to help it figure out what you’re doing.”

So next time you stroll down to your local air hockey parlor looking for a game, don’t be surprised when there’s a robot waiting for you. You’ve been warned.


CharlieCharlie Crespo (@Little_Utopia) is the editor-in-chief of Little Utopia.

Previously from Charlie Crespo:
For Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat, Defense Leads to Offense
As Always, the Future is Here and it’s Filled With Robots
The Thing Quarterly: A Magazine Unlike Any Other
Beertopia: Victory’s Headwaters Pale Ale
The Nightmare Before Chris Bosh(mas)

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