They make robots for everything these days. Cars can drive themselves, and humanoid and canine robots exist. What’s next? Golf robots, of course. Researchers at Paderborn University in Germany have come up with Golfi, the least imaginatively named putting robot in existence.
We don’t mean ‘putting’ in the sense of ‘putting that thing over there’. We mean ‘putting that golf ball into that very small hole’. Totally different pronunciation.
Golfi goes golfing
The little golf robot does most of its work via part of a Microsoft Kinect camera unit. Specifically, the 3D camera used to peer into rooms to see where people are standing. Golfi checks out the terrain and calculates its shot using a neural network. This network simulates a number of shots. Once the robot finds one that works it ambles over to sink a putt. In theory, anyway.
Golfi is able to calculate trajectories and how hard to swing its putter in about five minutes. It does so using those simulated shots. If it were basing its shot choices on actual golf swings, it would take in the region of 30 to 40 hours to learn how to take a shot.
But it’s not perfect, just like every other golfer on the planet. The little robot relies on a very specific camera view in order to see where the ball is in relation to the hole. Even so, occasionally when navigating into place, it’ll run over the ball itself. When it does pull off a shot, though, it’s accurate roughly 60 to 70% of the time. Which is far more accurate than most golfers who aren’t being paid to play on TV. It would prove less accurate on an actual course, where the cameras would have to be mounted on the robot itself. But maybe Boston Dynamics can teach Atlas to play. That wouldn’t be creepy at all.
Source: IEEE Spectrum