Inventor of Basketball Shooting Robot Creates ‘Can’t Miss’ Pool Table Idea
Remember the story about the “can’t miss” basketball-shooting robot? Shane Wighton invented it, and the inventor has come up with another idea.
In a story on gizmodo.com, author Andrew Liszewski writes:
“If there’s one thing we know about Shane Wighton it’s that he’ll use his formidable engineering skills to gain a competitive advantage in almost any sport. That includes building a ball-tracking never-miss basketball hoop, and now a robotic cue that will turn even novice players into a seasoned pool shark.”
Wighton’s explosive baseball bat will likely never gain baseball club approval, nor would the PGA allow his auto-adjusting golf club on the tour. But the automatic pool cue and smart table represent another level of engineering skill that’s at least amusing to the home player.
“Upgrading the pool cue involved cutting off the end and replacing it with a miniaturized Stewart platform: a mechanism that uses six moving arms to adjust the angle of a platform in three dimensions. They normally rely on hydraulic pistons (they’re most often used to create the rocking base of a flight simulator) but to keep things small Wighton instead using moving linkages controlled by tension cables running the entire length of the cue. To actually transfer energy to the cue ball, a pneumatic-powered piston was added to the tip with a pressurizing chamber on the other end to vary the shot power. The results aren’t going to fool anyone—it’s a pool stick with some serious upgrades, but getting it to work was far from the end of this project.”
Wighton mounted a video camera to the ceiling looking down on the pool table that could help the stick recognize the location of all the balls as well as the pool cue and where its tip was pointing. Along with a lot of custom code, including tools that would remove distortions added by the camera’s lens, the system can automatically calculate the angle and power needed to make a shot.
“In order for the player to properly aim their cue (the self-adjusting tip only has a limited range of movement), he then mounted a video projector next to the camera on the ceiling which would overlay the surface of the pool table with alignment guides and predicted trajectories. The results definitely look like a hack assembled in someone’s workroom, but the robot is a surprisingly capable pool player in the end.”
While the result is fun to watch, Wighton says it won’t be practical for a pool hall. However, players who are practicing at home might learn a thing or two from watching how the robot does it.
read more at gizmodo.com