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The robot was taught to play table tennis in an hour and a half

The robot was trained by specialists from the University of Tübingen in Germany. They began by developing a computer simulation in which a virtual robot arm, equipped with a table tennis racket, attempted to hit balls across a virtual table. The researchers performed this simulation so that a machine learning algorithm could “understand” how the speed and orientation of the paddle affects the trajectory of the ball.

Once the algorithm learned, the researchers applied it to control a real robotic arm. She was operating with a real racket. The system used two cameras to track the location of the real ball every 7 milliseconds, and the algorithm processed the signals and decided where to move the robotic arm to hit.

The whole process, including both virtual and real training, took only 1.5 hours.

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