Japanese firm Omron has created an ingenious ping pong-playing robot that demonstrates decent skill with a paddle. This robot is not capable of taking on and defeating even an intermediate-level human opponent, but is capable of partaking in long rallies while making sure the ball lands on the table and not on the ground.
In order to make its shot, the robot monitors the position of the ball, the position of the opponent and the position of the opponent's bat, using that information to calculate the ball's trajectory and velocity. It then computes the force required to return the ball to a spot that makes it easy for the opponent to hit, at the same speed at which the ball is received.
The ping pong-playing robot is an example of how sensing and control technology can be used to create robots that can work and play with humans.