Proving that robots really do have a place at the pub -- time to change your archaic anti-droid policies, Mos Eisley Cantina -- the team over at Willow Garage has programmed one of its PR2 robots to play a pretty impressive game of pool. More impressively, they did it in just under one week.
In order to get the PR2 to make pool-shark-worthy shots, the team had to figure out how to make it recognize both the table and the balls, things that come easily to all but the thirstiest pool hall patrons. The PR2 used its high-res camera to locate and track the balls and to orient itself to the table via the diamond markers on the rails. It further oriented itself by identifying the table legs with its lower laser sensor.
Once the bot learned how to spatially identify the balls and the table, the team simply employed an open-source pool physics program to let the PR2 plan and execute its shots. Check out the video below for a far more in-depth explanation of how all this works as well as a demonstration of the PR2's billiards prowess.
Five amazing, clean technologies that will set us free, in this month's energy-focused issue. Also: how to build a better bomb detector, the robotic toys that are raising your children, a human catapult, the world's smallest arcade, and much more.