Watch A Robot Take On A Ping-Pong Champ In This Epic Matchup

A one-armed robot plays a friendly game of ping-pong against German table tennis champ Timo Boll. So who won, man or machine?

In an epic battle of man-versus-machine ping-pong, man ultimately prevails, but the showdown highlights advances in developing human-like qualities in robots.


To celebrate the opening of a Shanghai factory, German robotics company Kuka pitted its one-armed ping-pong-playing robot against German table tennis champ Timo Boll.

Easing concerns about robot overlords, Boll wins narrowly, 11-9.

Ping-pong has become a popular way to demonstrate agility and rapid reflexes in robots. (And humans, too.) Vietnamese robotics company TOSY debuted a humanoid ping-pong-playing robot in 2007 and a German industrial mechanic recently showed off UHTTR-1, another one-armed robot that also excels in the sport.

About the author

Based in San Francisco, Alice Truong is Fast Company's West Coast correspondent. She previously reported in Chicago, Washington D.C., New York and most recently Hong Kong, where she (left her heart and) worked as a reporter for the Wall Street Journal.