Experimenting with robots: LBR iiwa can also play table tennis

Students at Stanford University program the KUKA lightweight robot to play a variety of games

November 16, 2015

KUKA lightweight robot LBR iiwa is playing table tennis at Stanford University, California.
It can catch a ball in a cup, manipulate a landing pad for a drone and play back a ping pong ball all on its own: the KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot at Stanford University in California. Students at the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Laboratory taught the lightweight robot how to play.

Programming robots at a high level

As part of their university class, the students were given the task of applying all of the robot’s capabilities. The table tennis project presented several challenges here. It required a vision system, object manipulation and fast real-time reactions. Furthermore, the LBR iiwa is not able to turn its “wrists” to apply sufficient force to the ball. The lightweight robot had to be programmed to observe the ball’s trajectory and calculate where it would land.

Click here to see how the KUKA KR AGILUS small robot performs at table tennis.

Position detection, sensitivity and more

Position detection, vision systems, sensitive joint torque sensors and high sensitivity came into play in the other projects as well. A landing pad was installed on the sensitive robot’s end effector. This enabled the robot to track the flight of a drone and ensure its safe landing. The seven-axis robot’s entire range of abilities was showcased in a Japanese game of dexterity called kendama. With a swinging motion of the robot arm, the ball landed in the cup.

Click here to find out how the KUKA LBR iiwa lightweight robot is becoming a mobile assistant

KUKA lightweight robot recognizes objects in space

The tasks assigned to the students required wide-ranging knowledge of the fundamentals. They had to program the robot to know where it was located in space. It needed to be able to recognize objects around it and then independently produce an interaction between the objects and their environment.

Click here to see the video of the students at Stanford University

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