A viral video of an robot playing ping pong against a human at a highly competitive level stunned social media with its agile moves and incredible returns.
The 13-second video features a humanoid-like robot playing table tennis with a professional player at the European Table Tennis Union event as spectators watched on.
“Will humans ever beat robots?” the video’s caption reads. “Is it only the beginning?”
The point begins with a tricky back hand by the human player, which the blue and white paneled robot returns with ease.
The human bats back a series of increasingly more powerful volley’s that the machine’s gray corded limbs lob back with seemingly effortless nonchalance.
The robot’s flesh and blood opponent smashes back two cross-court balls that the android spins to hit over the net, then rockets back a nearly unhittable spike that the robot casually taps back to win the point.
What’s social media saying about the ping pong playing robot?
The video went viral on Twitter, when Appcircle CEO Tansu Yegen shared the the post on July 22, and was viewed over 11.3 million times.
Yegen stoked the interest of his 1.3 million fans with the caption: “An intriguing future awaits us.”
“Seeing this one can wonder if there is any point at all trying to become a champion in any sport,” a follower glumly responded. “It’s like trying to become a chess champion nowadays when any computer can beat the best human player.”
“It can only be good at one thing it is programmed to do, humans will always have a remedy,” a defender of humanity shot back.
“Am I the only one who’s more scared than excited to see robots in the future?” one person questioned.
“Humanity doesn’t have a future if this continues,” an AI pessimist replied.
Other were less concerned about the rise of Skynet, than the validity of the video.
Is the robot vs human ping pong match real?
Eagle-eyed social media users were quick to point out why the robot in the video couldn’t be real.
“How you know it’s edited… Robots don’t have that kind of swag you see at the end,” someone noted.
“It became fully sentient when it did that walk at the end,” another joked.
“Truth is no robot can move with this so much flexibility yet,” one commenter replied.
That's a bucket pic.twitter.com/WHJBrDIbPb— BonnieLynn Marie 🍀🎩🏴 (@TheLastPirateLA) July 23, 2023
“That’s not a robot. That’s a human player with a robot avatar,” a blue check insisted.
Internet sleuths put the issue to rest when they located the exact same video with another human player in place of the extraordinary android.
“Why is the robot’s style of play very familiar, as if I have seen it somewhere,” somebody gibed facetiously.
Twitter uncovers the identity of the robot ping pong player
It didn’t take long for Twitter users to utilize the platform’s Community Notes feature to add some context to Yegen’s post.
“This is not a real robot,” they wrote. “This video has been digitally altered from a table tennis match featuring Slovak player Wang Yang.”
A link to a YouTube video titled “Yang Wang’s INSANE Defense Skills” was included in the caption, which clearly shows the Slovakian player performing the robot’s exact moves three months earlier.
“I thought I had seen that before,” a table tennis fan tweeted.
Who created the human vs robot ping pong video?
The clues about the robot tennis table phenom not being legitimate were in the original post long before the video of Wang was discovered.
In Yegen’s tweet, the video clearly originated from TikTok, and was watermarked with the creator’s handle, which is aptly named @animatronic3d.
“All on a green background and with the help of advanced technology animation superimposed robot character on the other player,” a commenter helpfully supplied.
“Nice Wonder Dynamics use,” another added.
How was Wonder Dynamics used to create the human vs robot ping pong video?
Wonder Dynamics is a “an AI tool that automatically animates, lights and composes CG characters into a live-action scene,” according to their website.
A user can upload a video, such as the one of Wang’s match, and their technology automatically tracks the human actor or model, then transposes a CGI character over the footage.
Wonder Dynamics allows users to upload their own 3D models, or use free characters from their artist community.
The video generated by Animitronic3d utilized a stock character featured on the website’s homepage, which was developed by Aaron Sims Creative and used in the studio’s upcoming original animated series, NEXUS.
👀— Wonder Dynamics (@WonderDynamics) July 23, 2023
Yegen eventually revealed that the video in his post was created using CGI. “This is of course edited and it still remains as a representation of the future,” he added in follow-up tweet after getting fact checked.
“LMFAO people thought this was real?” a filmmaker said about the video. Wonder Dynamics highlighted to the post with the eyes emoji.