Mechanical Engineering The University of Adelaide Australia

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Robotics Group

School of Mechanical

SA 5005

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Design of an autonomous mobile robot for experiments on multi-agent systems Projects by Frank Wornle Soccer Robots
Project Picture
Photo of Ryan T. Harrison

Ryan T. Harrison

Photo of James Mackenzie

James Mackenzie

Photo of Brett Morris

Brett Morris

Photo of Jarrad Springett

Jarrad Springett

Design of a robotic ping pong player

Ryan T. Harrison, James Mackenzie, Brett Morris, Jarrad Springett and Frank Wornle

Keywords: robotics, real-time image processing, stereoscopic vision, control

(Commenced: 01-Jan-2005,Concluded: 01-Jan-2006)

This honours project addresses the design and build of a robotic ping-pong player. Constructing a machine to play ping-pong was proposed years ago as a particularly difficult problem requiring fast, accurate sensing and actuation, and the intelligence to play the game. The anticipated ping-pong machine will bring together modern vision sensors, powerful image processing techniques as well as the techniques needed to intelligently plan the robot's response in the fraction of a second available.

The idea for this project goes back to a similar project undertaken by Russell L. Andersson at AT&T Bell Labs. in the mid-1980s. Andersson built a system to play a modified form of ping-pong: The table dimensions are smaller, the net is higher, and the ball must pass through square wire frames at each end of the table. There were multiple cameras to track the ball in three dimensions. A small industrial arm wielded a paddle with an extra-long handle. The robot's planner incorporated a model of ball flight and impact, and used these models to plan a nominal trajectory for the paddle. This nominal trajectory was then refined by iterated simulations, with concurrent adjustment of goals as better estimates of the ball's motion became available.

At present, the following final year Mechatronics students are working on this project: Ryan T. Harrison, James Mackenzie, Brett Morris and Jarrad Springett.



  • R. L. Andersson, Dynamic Sensing in a Ping-Pong Playing Robot, IEEE Transactions on Robotics and Automation, Vol. 5, No. 6, 1989, pp. 728 - 739
  • R. L. Andersson, 1988, A Robot Ping-Pong Player: Experiment in Real-Time Intelligent Control, The MIT Press, Cambridge, MA, USA

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