Over the years we’ve seen quite a few successful attempts to create robotic air hockey opponents, but Andrew Khorkin has dedicated himself to a much harder task. He’s managed to build a robot that can not only play table hockey—a more onerous task than playing air hockey—but one that can slap the puck into the net from almost anywhere on the board with incredible accuracy.
To a human player, air hockey can feel frenetic and chaotic as they try to keep their eyes on that puck zipping back and forth across an air-cushioned table. But the game isn’t terribly hard for a robotic player to master, assuming they’ve got access to a camera sitting above the table. The puck’s movements are relatively predictable as it bounces around, and as long as the robot is able to move its paddle into position fast enough, it will never lose.