Man v Robot: Table tennis champion Timo Boll takes on Kuka robotic arm

Robot is said to be lousy at squash

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The Independent Online

It is a problem that has troubled politicians, science fiction writers and luddites for years, if technology keeps advancing at such a pace, won't robots one day beat us at ping pong?

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This grim vision of the future where robots win gold and humans get medals just for trying with their stupid limbs was finally put to bed this week though, when world table tennis champion Boll took on a packing arm.

The clash, which looks to have been subject to extensive editing and probably wouldn't stand up to ITTF rules, saw Kuka steam ahead only for Boll to fight back to an 11-9 wine once he realised the robot couldn't cope with net calls, awkward bounces and other ping pong quirks.

It was as if the arm, which goes by the name KR 6 R900 SIXX, was built to package boxes and not take part in competitive sports.

The match came about after Boll was appointed ambassador for the robotics firm, which is soon to open a factory in Shanghai, thanks to his table tennis celebrity in China.

The teaser trailer for it racked up over a million YouTube views in February, and the full length version will no doubt eclipse it.

"Wherever I go, people talk to me and bring up the movie," Boll said. "The campaign is more than just fun; it promotes the sport of table tennis worldwide."