With all the recent talk of AI posing existential risks to humanity and our privacy, Japanese company Omron is taking a softer, more innocuous approach. Specifically, with its table tennis robot Forpheus, which strives to pursue “harmony of humans and machines” by patiently teaching us how to play ping-pong.
Although ping-pong ball-pitching machines like TrainerBot exist, Forpheus can actually live up to the feeling of playing against a real opponent. First introduced in 2014, the fourth generation of Forpheus (easier to remember than “Future Omron Robotics technology for Exploring Possibility of Harmonized aUtomation with Sinic theoretics” as stated on its website, but spells out FOREPHUS) was recently displayed at the CEATEC trade show last week. The updated machine adds a companion arm that can serve up balls in the air, and better predict smashes through improved AI.