Rock paper scissors with a robot

The Janken robot from the University of Tokyo's Ishikawa Oku Lab features a robotic hand and a high-speed vision sensor which is able to recognize its human counterpart’s choice of rock, paper, or scissors, as their finger move into position.

Nov 6th, 2013
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The robot revolution continues! Okay, that may be a bit overstated, but in the latest instance of “robots performing human tasks,” a robot designed by Japanese scientists is able to beat its human opponent in rocks-paper-scissors with 100% accuracy.

Growing up my strategy was to always try to remember if my opponent had a tendency to throw the same thing every time. In the case of my younger sister, I found that I could usually come out on top by using this strategy. But really, the game is just as much luck as it is psychology. But, that all changes with the development of the Janken robot from the University of Tokyo's Ishikawa Oku Lab.

Janken features a robotic hand and a high-speed vision sensor which is able to recognize its human counterpart’s choice of rock, paper, or scissors, as their finger move into position. In a previous model, the robot was delayed by 20 milliseconds, which ultimately meant that the robot was cheating, since it was technically reacting to whatever the person threw, and not matching them at the same time.

The new model, according to the researchers, is able to react and beat the human player in just 1 millisecond. As pointed out by both the Tokyo's Ishikawa Oku Lab and Gizmag, this is yet another example of how robots may interact with humans in the future. So while things like playing rock-paper-scissors, air hockey, or soccer may not really be all that important in the overall scheme of things, the technology will enable a multitude of practical applications, including working alongside humans in manufacturing/factory settings.

In addition, these robots could be used in security and surveillance, police, or even in the military. One question still remains for me though, and I will leave you with this:

What happens if the Jenken Robot goes up against another Jenken robot? Hmmm…

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