The ping-pong robot developed by OMRON Corporation received the Grand Prix in the Innovation Awards as Selected by U.S. Journalists at the Combined Exhibition of Advanced Technologies (CEATEC JAPAN 2014), the biggest exhibit of the latest lT and electronic technologies in all of Asia.
The Innovation Awards as Selected by U.S. Journalists are presented to outstanding technologies, products, and services exhibited at CEATEC JAPAN, by U.S. journalists working in the fields of IT and consumer electronics. The selections are made upon in-depth examination of candidate items on the site. The awards are presented for those items deemed to be outstanding in respect of an innovative character and potential influence on the U.S. market, by an independent panel of judges.
(For more details, please visit: http://www.ceatec.com/en/award/award02.html)
Mr. Michael Kanellos, who headed the Grand Prix judging panel, commented as follows on the assessment that led to selection of the ping-pong robot. "We decided to award the Grand Prix to OMRON's Ping Pong robot because robots have captured the imagination of the technology industry...OMRON, which has long been a leader in automation and industrial machinery, is developing the core technology for the next generation of robotics. Currently, industrial robots are generally built to perform fixed, repetitive tasks. OMRON's Ping Pong Robot is a thought experiment: will it be possible to develop robots that can perform a variety of tasks in a changing environment? A robot that can adapt to circumstances could do the work of six or seven fixed function robots. Creating such a robot, however, would also require advances in real time processing, sensing and mechanics. To create its Ping Pong Playing robot, OMRON leveraged technology from different disciplines. It is a work in progress...OMRON also, significantly, came up with a clever way to highlight its accomplishments. It was one of the most popular exhibits at the show...OMRON came up with a way to make people stop, listen and maybe start to think about technology advances that they may not fully experience for a few years."
OMRON is striving to develop sensing & control technology needed to build an enriched society marked by optimal harmonization of people and machines. To realize such a society over the coming years, we see a need for the addition of a "thinking" function to this sensing & control, for a further evolution of technology enabling machines to adjust to their human partners. We made the ping-pong robot for the purpose of demonstration, so visitors could actually see the fruits of our challenge of this technological evolution aimed at the construction of new relationships between people and machines, through adjustment by the machine to the human partner. The robot was designed for long continuation of rallies with its human opponent. To this end, it forecasts the ball trajectory and velocity based on data on the opponent's physical movement and ball position, and returns the ball to a spot and at a velocity making it easy for the opponent to hit back.