WHOA: Inventors Built A Robot That Can Play A Perfect Game Of Beer Pong

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.

Brandon Wenerd avatar
BroBible's publisher and a founding partner, circa 2009. Brandon is based in Los Angeles, where he oversees BroBible's partnership team and other business development activities. He still loves to write and create content, including subjects related to internet culture, food, live music, Phish, the Grateful Dead, Philly sports, and adventures of all kinds. Email: brandon@brobible.com