Overview: The Pong-Bot’s job is bouncing ping pong balls into six tumblers as fast as possible. This task is based on Bouncerchallenge from the old TV game show Minute to Win It (although many people say it reminds them of beer pong). A “race function” matches the robot against a human to see who can complete bouncing balls into six tumblers first.
Background: I was intrigued by IBM Watson beating Jeopardy champion Ken Jenkins a few years ago. So, while we have robots fighting robots and robots, and interacting with people in some way, I didn't see many robots challenging humans in physical skill games. This motivated a robot to challenge human competitors in a physical skill game (bouncing ping-pong balls).
Findings: I'll summarize robot vs. human game outcomes from two Maker Faires in this Instructable, and share some "lessons learned."
Technical overview: The robot operates using an Arduino UNO, two servos, a gear motor, and hall effect, optical, and mechanical sensors. An OLED display reports race results. See System Overview and General Operation for details. Also, because this project evolved over time, I'll share some "lessons learned."
Project difficulty: Good electrical and mechanical construction skills, along with Arduino IDE experience is required. Estimated cost $300, and construction time of at least a couple of weekends.