This golf robot uses a Microsoft Kinect camera and neural network to align putts

that can hit a golf ball down a fairway aren’t exactly new, but building one that can play the nuanced short game is a more complex problem. Researchers at the University of Paderborn in Germany have done just that with Golfi, a machine that uses a neural network to figure out how to line up a putt and how hard to hit the ball to hit it from anywhere on the green. hole to get.

The robot takes a snapshot of the green with one and simulates thousands of random shots from different positions. It takes into account factors such as the rolling resistance of the turf, the weight of the ball and the starting speed. Paderborn PhD student Annika Junker told us that training Golfi on simulated shots takes five minutes, compared to 30-40 hours when the team fed data from real shots into the system.

Once Golfi has figured out which shot to take, he rolls toward the ball and uses a belt-driven gear shaft with a putter attached to make the putt. However, the robot does not get the ball in the hole every time. Junker said the robot got the shot right about 60-70 percent of the time. That’s still better accuracy than most amateur golfers and at least you won’t see Golfi fly off the handle when it misses.

However, Golfi sometimes drove over the ball and pushed it out of position. The researchers only tested the robot in the lab, so real-world conditions, such as sod greens or steep slopes, could pose problems for a system that relies on a bird’s-eye view.

In any case, it was not the intention of the researchers to build a robot that could compete with professionals. They hope that the techniques they used in Golfi can be used for other robot applications. “You can also transfer that to other problems, where you have some knowledge about the system and can model parts of it to get some data, but you can’t model everything,” said Niklas Fittkau, another doctoral student and co-leader of the University of Paderborn. author of told IEEE research.

In 2016, another robot called LDRIC (albeit on the fifth attempt). I wonder who paid the bill afterwards for a round of drinks in the clubhouse.

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