Coming to a frat house near you: A robot who can run the table, every single night without fail. Computers have been beating humans at chess for a long, long time. But only recently did we have to start worrying about computers beating living, breathing human beings at the beer pong table. A futuristic company called Empire Robotics — which appears to specialize in robots that can grip and propel objects — built a robot that can plan an absolutely lights out game of beer pong. The project is called the VERSABALL® Beer Pong Robot and it will be demonstrated on the floor of CES 2015 in Las Vegas in a couple of weeks, where Bros will be able to challenge the robot to a game.
So what the heck is VERSABALL? Via the press release:
The VERSABALL is a squishy balloon membrane full of loose sub-millimeter particles. The soft ball gripper easily conforms around a wide range of target object shapes and sizes. Using a process known as “granular jamming”, air is quickly sucked out of the ball, which vacuum-packs the particles and hardens the gripper around the object to hold and lift it. The object releases when the ball is re-inflated. VERSABALL comes in multiple head shapes and sizes that use the same pneumatic base.
That’s nice and all, but what about some real-life tech applications?
Historically, manufacturers have spent a great deal of engineering resources designing specialized and varied grippers for industrial production. To meet the demands of agile manufacturing — typically with a low-volume, high-mix series of tasks — automating production involves frequent reprogramming and retooling. For many companies, the final solution often combines expensive mechanical, vacuum, and magnetic grippers into a complex end-of-arm tool that is highly specific to the application and not easily adaptable or reusable.
In contrast to traditional, fixed tooling, Empire Robotics VERSABALL delivers an out-of-the-box, multitask solution that easily adapts to a variety of tasks. In a matter of minutes, with a fraction of the engineering time and effort, VERSABALL can be programmed or reprogrammed to pick and place parts that vary — like ceramics — and consistent parts with varied orientations such as objects that fall randomly on a conveyor.
Oh. Cool! As you can see in the demonstration video below, the
robot — more like “brobot”– is absolutely insane. No one is calling “next” against this machine any time soon.
The future is now.