This Robot Can Probably Kick Your Ass at Foosball

EPFL's student developed the machine over the course of several years.


Ready to have your ass handed to you by a robot? If you’re a foosball player with average or below average skills (which, statistically speaking, you probably are), a machine developed by students in Switzerland is going to beat you.

Bachelor and master’s students at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne’s Automatic Control Laboratory developed the program over the course of several years. A camera below the transparent table sends an image to computer, which processes the data and works out how it should move the players. It sounds awesome, but the designers explain that it’s simply programmed to find the ball, stop it, and shoot at the goal.

It’s not the first robot to ruin a fun game between humans. In April, BYU students developed a similar robot. That one was a bit more advanced, though, with the ability to mimic human play styles and learn from its opponents. The EPFL model is described by its creators as “a bodybuilder with a tiny brain.”

“We reached a point where we can beat a regular player,” Christophe Salzmann, project coordinator at the ACL, says in a video about the project. “Now the next step is to have a better strategy.”

Once that happens, the machines will have added one more sport to their repertoire, following their successful conquering of Go, Jeopardy!, and badminton.

Watch the robot in action below:

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