Timo Boll of Germany is currently the eighth-ranked table tennis player on the planet. KR Agilus is a super-fast robot arm thing made by a company called Kuka. Kuka is opening up a new plant in China in March, and to celebrate the opening, they say they're going to have Boll play Agilus in ping-pong:
Word? Agilus is indeed extremely fast and skilled at "fine motor" tasks like sorting small objects very quickly. A similar-looking robot can play snooker. A robot can bounce a ping-pong ball vertically on a paddle. The closest precedent I can find is this friendly-looking humanoid, which can hold a long rally against its counterpart and return both forehand and backhand shots of varying speeds from a person:
And that's from over two years ago. Even with all that, it's hard to imagine Agilus even coming close to matching the skill and unpredictability of one of the world's best human opponents, assuming Boll is really playing to win. I am intrigued, but I can't quite buy it.
I guess we have to check this all out on March 11 to see what goes down? I guess that's the point?