First machines learn to dominate the sport of emperors (chess). Now they are on the verge of dominating the sport of electricians.
Nuvation, an engineering services company, concocted an air-hockey playing robot that vanquishes nearly all of its opponents, according to former Craver Michael Kanellos. It wins more than 90 percent of its games, according to the company. (Or, to put that it Genghis speak, it fights with the strength of 10 men!)
The robot exists mostly as a way to show off the company's skills. Nuvation effectively specializes in taking other people's hardware and software and developing new systems that the original developers didn't think of. The air hockey terminator basically consists of an industrial robot rigged with an optical sensor that's programmed to follow, and react to, a specific moving object. That would be the puck covered with a shiny, metallic decal.
The robot, by the way, does live up to its advance billing, according to Kanellos. In watching it for a half an hour at the Freescale Technology Forum, the bot never lost a goal and scored many. Granted, none of the players he witnessed were off-duty roofing contractors tanked up on a 12-pack of Keystone Lager, but some players were pretty good nonetheless. The most eerie moments come when the robot would block a shot without even moving. It mocks you with its stillness.
Engineers at the company gave him some tips on beating it. He can't reveal them but offered these clues: Women do better than men and, if you can't master your anger, your anger will master you.