Drives and Controls Magazine
Robot ping-pong match video draws viewers – and critics
Published:  12 March, 2014

A video of a highly-publicised table-tennis “match” between a human and an industrial robot has attracted more than a million YouTube viewings in its first two days online.

But the video, in which the German table-tennis star, Timo Boll, takes on a Kuka industrial robot, has also attracted considerable criticism from viewers because of its highly-edited appearance, with some accusing it of being “fake”.

“We've waited for new horizons in robotics,” commented one viewer, “but we've got only a Hollywood-like stupid, all-fake movie”.

“This wasn't about table tennis or robotics,” says another viewer, “it was about camerawork and editing.”

Kuka itself describes the video as being “elaborately produced”. It points out that a teaser video for the “match” itself attracted more than a million hits. It quotes Boll as saying: “Wherever I go, people mention the video. The campaign with Kuka is not only fun, but has also generated positive publicity for table tennis all over the world. That of course makes me especially happy.”

The table tennis video was part of the celebrations to mark the opening of Kuka’s new production facility in Shanghai, China, which has the capacity to make up to 5,000 robots a year. The 20,000m2 plant, which employs 350 people, is building industrial robots and controllers for the Asian region