From delivering food to your door to serving coffee to removing canker sores, robots can already perform a number of impressive tasks.
But now a robot has made it onto the golf course that can navigate itself to a ball and even sink a putt.
Thanks to a 3D camera, the amazing robot named Golfi can find golf balls and turn himself into the right place before making a shot.
The camera uses an algorithm to detect hard-coded objects, scan the area and find the ball.
Golfi (pictured) was developed by the University of Paderborn in Germany. The robot can find a ball on the green and even sink a putt
How does the Golfi robot work?
A new robot called Golfi has been developed by doctoral students at the University of Paderborn in Germany.
Although it was developed to demonstrate the power of the hybrid robot design, it gets 70 percent of the shots it needs.
It works with a 3D camera that scans and photographs the green.
The weight of the ball and the resistance of the turf are then analyzed, which is then fed into a physics-based model.
This then works through 3,000 random shots from different positions to figure out how hard to hit the ball and in which direction.
Once spotted, it takes a snapshot, which is then sent to a model to stimulate 3,000 random shots from different positions and starting points, reports the IEEE Spectrum.
This information is used to train a neural network that can accurately predict how hard to hit the ball and in which direction.
The robot takes data from the camera into account, describing the rolling resistance on the turf and the weight of the ball.
He then lines up his putter with the ball in position and hits.
Golfi, which works by minimizing the number of “time-consuming interactions” required, was developed by PhD student Annika Junker of the University of Paderborn in Germany.
Despite its excellent putting abilities, it wasn’t designed to knock pros like Tiger Woods off the golf course, but to show how powerful hybrid robotic designs can be by combining physics-based models with machine learning.
At the IEEE International Conference on Robotic Computing in Naples in December, she explained her robot creation: “It’s like professional golfers often practice their shots on a green the day before a game.”
When testing, Golfi occasionally ran over the ball, but when he didn’t, he was able to sink up to 70 percent of putts on a flat, two-square-meter indoor green.
While Golfi would occasionally drive over the ball, when he wasn’t doing so he could sink more than 60 percent of putts on a flat, 2 square meter indoor green
Ms Junker added: “We are trying to combine data-driven and physics-based methods and we have been looking for a beautiful example that everyone can easily understand.
“For us it’s just a toy, but we hope to see some benefits of our approach for industrial applications.”
After looking at the robot, Noel Rousseau, a golf coach with a PhD in motor learning, told IEEE Spectrum, “What’s most impressive to me is that the golf robot is able to find the ball, see the hole, and… moving yourself into position for an accurate jab.’
Co-creator of the robot Niklas Fittkau added: “You can also apply this to other problems where you know quite a bit about the system and could model parts of it to get data, but you can’t model everything.”
This isn’t the first robot to play golf.
The LDRIC robot hit a hole-in-one from a considerable distance at a golf course on Arizona’s TPC Scottsdale course in the US in 2016.
LDRIC (which stands for Launch Directional Robot Intelligent Circuitry) is widely used in the golf industry to test new technology and to be able to swing a club perfectly.
It also has the ability to replicate the average golfer’s swing mistakes, like dreaded hooks and slices, allowing club manufacturers to design more forgiving curbs.
However, Golfi is the first golf robot that doesn’t need a human to line up the ball in front of it and program it for the right swing.
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