Can a computer beat you at foosball? Yes. Yes it can.

1 See the ball, be the ballStudents mounted a webcam above their custom-built foosball table. It snaps 60 images per second — “no complicated, expensive sensors to see where the ball is,” says project supervisor D.J. Lee, an electrical and computer engineering professor at Brigham Young University outside Salt Lake City.2 ‘Faster than humans’The camera flips those images to a computer running an algorithm that identifies the ball and players on the fly via image-recognition software. Artificial intelligence then determines how the squad should react. “Our system responds very quickly; it’s faster than humans,” says chief table carpenter Joseph Quist, who just wrapped up his third year in engineering.3 Controlling the playersTwo compact electric rotary motors cap each end of the robo-squad’s four horizontal steel shafts, which hold the plastic…

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