Like many of the robots in roboworld®, the Air Hockeybot 1000 senses, thinks, and acts as it plays against a human opponent. The air hockey robot is a fun adaptation of a robotic arm.
The sensor system uses bright LED lights to create even lighting on the table, allowing an overhead camera to easily see the reflective puck. Thinking is performed by a 32-bit computer that uses motion estimation to evaluate the puck's location, speed, direction, spin, and energy loss due to friction. It does this 100 times per second! For all its fast action, the Air Hockeybot is very simple compared to humans. Its ability to predict the path of the puck is quite good, but its mechanical arm is slower than a human's arm and its vision system is blind to everything but the glowing puck. By focusing all of its technology on one task (playing air hockey), the robot can often outperform humans, but challenge it to do something else, like play ping pong or checkers, and you'll win every time.