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Beijing Institute of Technology Unveils BHR-4 & BHR-5

A pair of BHR-5s can rally up to 200 times without error

Late last year researchers at Zhejiang University, China, unveiled a pair of ping-pong playing robots (see here).  Last week, rival researchers at the Beijing Institute of Technology fought back with the fourth and fifth generations of their humanoid robots at the “National Hi-Tech Industrial Development Zone” exhibition.

The BHR-4 is a departure from the others, being a realistic android that wears human clothing.  Based on one of the researchers, it has an animatronic face capable of expressing a variety of emotions on demand including surprise, fear, and happiness.  As a result of all the moving parts in its face (eyes, eyelids, eyebrows, mouth, and cheeks) this robot has a total of 43 degrees of freedom.  It stands 170 cm (5’7″) tall and weighs 65 kg (143 lbs).

And unlike the Geminoids built in Japan, this android has a fully-actuated body, allowing it to stand up and perform tai chi exercises.  It also participated in simple conversation with attendees thanks to speech recognition and speech synthesis.  When asked, “What do you like to eat?” it replied, “We robots do not need to eat.”

The BHR-5 proved even more popular thanks to its new trick: the ability to play ping-pong.  A pair of robots use four cameras and a high-speed image processing program to detect the trajectory of the ping-pong ball within 0.3~0.4 seconds.  The pair rallied back and forth a dozen times, and played against human opponents, and have successfully rallied 200 times without missing a beat.  This model stands 162 cm (5’4″) tall, weighs 63 kg (139 lbs), and has a total of 32 degrees of freedom.  The BHR-5 looks quite a bit like the BHR-2, which performed a sword dance back in 2005.


You’ve got to feel a little self-conscious when your robot double is slimmer than you… A few more photos follow after the break.

Update July 9th, 3pm: Please note that, contrary to an article published by The Daily Mail, the robots seen above are not the same ping-pong playing robots by Zhejiang University.  It appears the Daily Mail’s writer saw ping-pong playing robots, did a quick Google search, and copy-pasted an article about them from last year.  As you can see in this screen capture from last week’s CCTV-4 news report, BIT is presenting the robots with the same chart found earlier on the BIT-spinoff “King Robot” website showing the evolution of the BHR robots (although their new chart is more up to date, and includes the two new robots):

[sources: Xinhua, KTSF, ChinaDaily (CN)]