The first version of this robot that you can’t beat at the universal children’s game of “rock-paper-scissors” was made by the researchers at the Ishikawa Oku Laboratory at Japan’s University of Tokyo, and apparently these guys were not satisfied at its “unbeatability.” The same team of researchers have come up with a second version – still unbeatable, mind you – but without the seeming delay in its reactions. The robotic hand now reacts as fast as the human hand does, never mind the small fact that going against it is utterly useless – you still can’t beat it, but now you marvel at the speed of the reactions too.
The earlier version of the robot, which consists of a high-speed vision sensor and a simplistic robot hand, was able to recognize its opponent’s choice of rock, paper, or scissors as their fingers moved into position. The catch was that it took the robot hand another 20 milliseconds to position its own fingers. That minor delay, barely perceptible to the human eye, revealed to anyone with fast enough eyes (really, guys, who does?) that the robot was indeed “cheating”, since it was technically showing its hand slower than the human hand. For the robotics scientists at the University of Tokyo, this was an issue that needed resolving. Now the second and improved version of the robotic hand is able to play its choice in just one millisecond. By recognizing the human player’s strategy earlier, the robot can show its hand at exactly the same time as its opponent.
Now the Japanese have robotic hands that will beat you at rock-paper-scissors. They also have a robot that will beat the crap out of you in air hockey, and they also have one that talks and provides companionship for lonely astronauts. Lastly, they have a rock band made of robots – yes, robot musicians who rock better than Bon Jovi. If ever these robots become sentient, good luck at trying to beat them at air hockey or rock-paper-scissors.