With statistics that robotic systems are replacing human employees at an accelerating pace, it seems like there’s not much humans can do. However, it’s videos like these that make us feel slightly better about the fate of humanity. Well, it helps in our ability to survive a table tennis apocalypse.
KUKA Robotics, a Germany-based (but also Chinese-owned) robotics company, conducted the challenge. The champion of humanity for this battle is Germany’s Timo Boll. Boll is currently ranked 11th in the world and second in Germany. He’s known for an incredible topspin and a very quick backhanded return. Boll is lefthanded, and he uses that to his advantage.
Boll’s opposition is the ping-pong perfected Agilus. KUKA Robotics created Agilus and claimed it was the fastest robot in the world. The system’s agile nature means it can hit the same desired spot within a fraction of a millimeter each time.
The match is more stressful than most professional tennis matches. It seems higher stakes than watching Olympic table tennis (or even regular tennis). Maybe it’s due to Agilus’s perfect strokes. Maybe it’s because it can be unnerving to watch something emotionless compete in a sport where we typically see quite a bit of emotion. After the hard fought match, Boll pulled ahead and scored 11 to the robot’s 9. Thanks to his win and subsequent partnerships with KUKA, Boll became the company’s brand ambassador.
And as for Agilus? The robot’s performance against Boll serves as a great marketing strategy when showcasing its speed. The company points out that Agilus, like other KUKA small robots, don’t require any additional lubrication. They can continuously produce the same results without breaking a sweat. So, theoretically, Boll could face a challenge against Agilus as to who can endure the longest game of table tennis. If given the right power source, Agilus systems — and the robots — certainly have the upper hand.