A few weeks ago I posted about some students at the Department of Technological Studies at Ohio Northern University who are working on making an industrial robot play air hockey. Now it looks like an engineering services company called Nuvation has a lead on them. They recently demonstrated a very successful version of an air hockey playing robot that is able to beat all comers (or at least wins 90% of games) at the Freescale Technology Forum 2008 Americas. Here is a nice video interview with the CEO of Nuvation explaining their system. One interesting point is that the robot vision system not only tracks the current position, speed and direction of the puck, but then makes intelligent guesses on its future position predicting up to three bounces. They are showcasing the power of the processing system which is using two different procesors working together, but I have been unable to dig up more technical details online.
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.
I finally found a little more technical information on this robot here:
Robot Aims to Top Human at Air Hockey
They talk about how the “The robot is powered by a special pc-board that can instantly switch between Freescale Semiconductor’s 8-bit Flexis and its 32-bit ColdFire microcontrollers”. Apparently in 8-bit mode human players could beat the robot, but in 32-bit mode the robot would win most of the time. Follow the link above to learn more.