'The Tonight Show' host Jimmy Fallon has become the latest person to take on a machine and fail.
In an episode of the popular talk show, Fallon challenged a robotic arm designed in Denmark to a game of beer pong: a drinking game popularised at American colleges where the aim is to throw table tennis balls into plastic cups from across a table. Unsurprisingly Fallon was comfortably beaten.
The accurate ping-pong-ball-throwing robotic arm, nicknamed UR5, was manufactured by Universal Robots in Funen with a special grip added by the US firm Empire Robotics.
A versatile bot
Esben Hallundbæk Østergaard, a former researcher at Syddansk Universitet who is one of the UR5’s main developers, explains why Fallon and co used their robot on the show.
“It is no surprise they chose our robot to play beer pong with, seeing as it is very easy to move around” Østergaard told Videnskab.dk. “Furthermore, it is also easy to program."
The UR5 was designed to meet the demands of a small, flexible industrial robot that was easy to calibrate. But since its inception in 2010, it has been used for a much wider range of functions.
These include an appearance as a surgical robot in the sci-fi series 'Extant', and assisting the Danish queen with her ribbon-cutting duties during the inauguration of a new centre at the Technological Institute.
Safety is key
But what really sets the UR5 apart from the competition is that it is very safe to operate.
“We have the only robot in the world with safety settings so advanced, that in nearly 80 percent of cases it doesn’t require shielding,” Henrik Gordon Petersen, a professor at Syddansk Universitet involved in the early design phase of UR5, explained to Videnskab.dk
“First of all, it is small in size, but more important are the advanced safety settings that switch it off as soon as it encounters unexpected resistance.”
Check out the clip of the beer pong game in YouTube below.