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China robot challenges human players in badminton

Reporter: Tao Yuan 丨 CCTV.com

05-21-2016 10:40 BJT

The development of artificial intelligence in recent years has left many of us looking forward to a fully automated future. From robots that wait tables to those that play chess, their skillsets are never ending. In Southwest China, we met a machine that’s got some pretty impressive sporting skills.

Meet Robomintoner. This is the world’s first fully automated badminton robot. It can play as well as any amateur badminton enthusiast.

Meet Robomintoner. This is the world’s first fully automated badminton robot. It can play as well as any amateur badminton enthusiast.

I'm about to take on a rising star in China's badminton scene. Among its racquet partners -- former world champion Dong Jiong, and Chinese premier Li Keqiang.

Meet Robomintoner. This is the world’s first fully automated badminton robot. It can play as well as any amateur badminton enthusiast.

Its creators -- a group of college students and teachers in southwest China's Chengdu City. It won a special award at last year’s Asia-Pacific Robot Contest.

"We were required to create a robot that could play a doubles badminton match. We were the only team who made this robot fully automated. We are in the business of making clever devices. We might as well make it fully intelligent," said Huang Xi, student from University of Electromic Science and Technology of China.

Here’s how it works. Through an HD camera and a binocular vision system, the device “sees” the shuttlecock and predicts its movements.

Meet Robomintoner. This is the world’s first fully automated badminton robot. It can play as well as any amateur badminton enthusiast.

Meet Robomintoner. This is the world’s first fully automated badminton robot. It can play as well as any amateur badminton enthusiast.

The data is sent via bluetooth to a mobile platform, directing it swiftly to the target location. The racquet holder turns and voila. While all this may very well sound impressive, scientists say the holy grail is the robot’s navigation system.

"The accuracy rate must be within millimetres. Currently there’s no perfect system in the world for a robot to locate itself indoors. The technology used in the Robomintoner is actually very advanced. No matter how it moves on the court, as long as it’s got battery, it will know its exact location. It won’t lose its direction. It won’t lose ITSELF," said Luo Deyuan, mechatronics professor from University of Electromic Science and Technology of China.

The machine is expected to hit the market next month.

Now, its creators are already taking it on tour, to schools and gyms, bridging complicated science with your everyday life.

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