In this guide, you’ll learn everything about choosing the best robot for your ping pong practice. We’ll cover features to look for, benefits and limitations of such devices, touch on new advancements in technologies, as well as review the TOP 5 Best Ping Pong Robots to date! Join in our discussion on the best available models.
- What is a ping pong robot and how it works
- Things to look for when buying
- Do you really need a ping pong robot?
- TOP 5 Best Ping Pong Robots
- Pros and cons of ping pong robots
What if we start with a video for a change? Look at how powerful robots can be these days! Despite so much drama in this promotional video, it looks pretty much amazing and eerie just to think that these robots are even possible:
When I was in China, I was surprised to learn that ping pong was a popular national sport with top players being regarded as national heroes, sort of like pop stars. It was played literally everywhere: in schools, in parks, on TV, and even at work during breaks. So it’s absolutely unsurprising that the first ping pong robots were developed in Asia.
Back in 2005, the engineers at the Vietnamese factory started working on TOSY Ping Pong Playing Robot, which was later given a name of TOPIO. The robot had not seen a light of day up until 2007 when it was publicly demonstrated at the Tokyo International Robot Exhibition, where it quickly gained a number of fans and dedicated followers. The humanoid metallic black-and-red robot resembled a hybridization of Darth Vader and a medieval night. But besides its uncanny appearance, the robot seemed to possess almost supernatural skills at playing ping-pong. Only about 10 years passed since then, and those AI machines literally spurred around, popping up here and there, and challenging the best table tennis players. But again, not surprisingly, the best machines are still of an Asian origin, where technology and electronics really seemed to take off. Now, let’s see what exactly a ping pong robot is and how it works.
A ping pong robot is a simple interactive machine that shoots balls from across the table at the player. Speaking of super innovative robots, they can resemble humanoids that use mathematical precision to predict the ball’s lending position with a margin error of approximately one inch. Some of the robots are so advanced that they can perform various ping pong techniques like slicing and curving. Unfortunately, though, they are not yet available for purchase over the counter or online, unless you’re Jeff Bezos or Larry Ellison.
The prices usually fall within a range of 300 to 400 dollars for the simple models, but can skyrocket up to 2,000 dollars for more sophisticated options.
Look for the robot that has the following features:
- Oscillation is a must-have option, preferably with adjustable range and random oscillation
- Adjustable speed, frequency, multiple spins and shots
- Adjustable waiting time
- Ease of use and installation (some of the robots come with Chinese instructions, so see if you can find English translations)
- A nice feature to have is pre-set drills and exercises, but they usually come with more advanced (read: expensive) models
Yes, if you need to:
- Practice different spins and experiment with various techniques
- Establish certain speed and ingrain certain strokes into your “muscle memory”
- Sharpen your skills
- Test and adjust to new devices (different rubbers, blades, balls)
- Practice footwork exercises
- Have fun and even meditate
Hereinbelow, we’ll look into five different ping pong robots from having a simple to more advanced functionality.
Robo-Pong | Newgy - ping pong robot with oscillation
This ping-pong beast can handle up to 40 balls at a time! The ball bucket with extender cage holds approximately 200 balls. There are special controls for ball speed, frequency, and oscillation. There are multiple spins and shot selections available.
- 40+ balls
- Bucket extender capacity: 200 balls
- Compatibility: 110V and 220v
- Frequency: 26 to 94 balls per minute.
- Max ball speed: under 80 MPH and is on a scale from 1 - 10.
- Spins: topspin, backspin, left sidespin, right sidespin, combination spin
- Shot selection: push, chop, serve, counter, lob, fast loop
Here’s how this thing works:
Customers were impressed with how the robot played. Testers advised that the settings should be played with a little to ensure you’re getting everything from the machine, but after the initial tuning, it should be a blast! Others said it was a fantastic addition to their daily practice. Overall, this is a must-have if you’re serious about table tennis.
Newgy: Check the current price
Table Tennis Training Robot | iPong - ping pong robot with remote & digital display
The Chinese have a special affinity to the letter “i” back from the days when iPhone was something every Chinese desired. Now, they're practically dozens of brands in China that have the letter “i” in front of their names. The iPong robot is no exception. The machine has been recently updated to ensure consistency and accuracy. It now comes with a wireless remote and digital display for easy control settings. There are several adjustable features as well that would allow you to adjust ball frequency from 1 to 8, side-to-side oscillation, and spin speeds. This thing is cheaper than the first robot we’ve covered in the guide, but it’s nevertheless on par with its competitor in terms of functionality and performance.
- 100+ balls
- Tray capacity: 50 balls
- Frequency: 30 to 70 balls per minute
- Compatibility: 110V and 220v; all standard size table tennis tables (9'x5'); 40 mm iPong balls
- Spins: topspin, backspin
- Shot selection: multi-tiered iPong elevation tool is designed to change ball trajectory and increase shot. 3 heights: 9mm,17mm, or 26mm
- Add-on: wireless remote & digital display
A promotional video by iPong:
The customers were generally happy with the purchase. However, more serious players noticed that the ball speed and oscillation were never consistent or that the balls frequently jammed. So, if you’re a beginner or an amateur, this would probably be a fun addition to your table tennis.
iPong: Check the current price
Table Tennis Robot for Training | HUI PANG - ping pong robot with remote
This is the cheapest robot on our list, but it’s also capable of handling 110 table tennis balls at a time, which is quite an impressive number. It’s easy to install and comes with instructions both in Chinese and English. There’s a wired remote and an ample number of settings to choose from. Overall, it’s a nice machine for the price.
- 110 balls
- Frequency: 40-70/minutes
- Ball speed: 4-40 m/s
- Compatibility: 100V-240V
- Spins: 2 wheels drive (multi-spin, up and down, right and left)
- Add-on: wired remote
If you’d like to see the machine in action, then here’s a great video, and although the description runs in Chinese, you’ll be able to understand how the machine operates, which functions it can perform, how low and high it can shoot, as well as what a powerful oscillation it can do:
HUI PANG Robot: Check the current price
Double-End Robot | HUI PANG - double-end capacity ping pong robot
Another fantastic option from the same company, Hui Pang, but only with a double-end capacity, and which is able to accommodate up to 120 balls. Double-head can serve 9 kinds of spin balls. The serve angles can be adjusted up and down. You can also choose the feature to randomly adjust the angle of serving from left to right.
- 120 balls
- Frequency: 40-70/minutes
- Ball speed: 4-40 m/s
- Compatibility: 100V-240V
- Spins: multi-spin, up and down, right and left
Unfortunately, though, many customers received the product with instructions in Chinese only, which could be quiet a pain in the neck, if you don’t know the language. I’ve also tried to find test drive videos of this particular model, and I did find a few but only in Korean and Thai, with a lot of talking and a very little playing. Up until now, consumers have not shared their pics and videos, so it’s a little bit difficult to recommend this one without compunction.
HUI PANG Double-End Robot: Check the current price
Butterfly Amicus Prime Table Tennis Robot | Butterfly - ping pong robot with Android Tablet & Net
This is the most expensive item on our list that can cost you an arm and a leg, but it’s all worth it if you’re buying it for a professional practice. The Butterfly robot is also different from the others because it can be fully controlled through an application and connected wirelessly via Bluetooth. The software is continuously updated with new features and functions. There are also 20 pre-set drills created by German Butterfly Coach Richard Prause, which can also be modified or replaced. You can actually sequence drills by using Cluster Memory either one after the other or randomly.
- Frequency: up to 120/minutes
- Spins: Topspin, Backspin, Left Sidespin, Right Sidespin, Top/Left
- Spin, Top/right Spin, Back/Left Spin, Back/Right Spin, No Spin
- Shots: Slow Loop, Counter, Fast Loop, Push, Chop, Lob, Serve,
- Dead Block, Flat Kill, Smash, Heavy Chop, Heavy Serve
- Add-ons: Android Tablet, downloadable app for smartphone use; carry bag and net
This is a promotional video with Timo Boll that basically shows the installation process, pairing with the device, fine-tuning the settings, and the play part itself:
Unfortunately, from what I read, customers had particular difficulties with setting this thing up and fine-tuning it, since there’s very little guidance for setup available. The disassembly process is obviously a pain in the neck, and instructions for taking down the Amicus are not helpful.
Butterfly: Check the current price
- You can enhance your practice without the need for a coach or a partner
- Many different functions, speeds, spins, etc offer a real-life experience as though you’re playing with a person of at least average skills or better
- The best models are not yet available for the public
- Some advanced models are so pricey that make them unavailable for enthusiasts and semi-professions
- Still, nothing is better than a human coach
How to make a ping pong robot? // DIY ping pong ball robot // lego ping pong robot
Well, maybe it’s not the best idea, but if you’re a techie person, you can, indeed, attempt at building your own robot. You’ll find numerous videos on youtube, where people tried to do a table tennis robot from hard drives, legos, popsicles, and more!
These are a few ideas:
Ping pong robot goblins from mars
Nice choice of music for ping pong games!
What is the Omron Forpheus ping pong robot?
This is the most technologically advanced ping pong robot from Omron, which aims to mimic human abilities and intuition with mathematical precision. But it’s not something you can have in your house, it’s so huge, it can barely fit into any living space. It reminds me of the days, when computers occupied a large amount of space, were bulky, and performed very little. However, look at us now!
Here’s a beautiful promotional video of this robot, which can give you an excellent idea into how powerful the machine is and how our nearest future might look:
What’s the best ping pong machine for the money?
From what we’ve covered in our TOP 5, we can safely recommend Robo-Pong from Newgy and Table Tennis Robot for Training from HUI PANG.
Who wins: ping pong robot vs human?
As of now, humans seem to win in the battle. But we’re sure, these days are about to pass.
Look at how the Verge reporters saw Omron machine in action:
Jeff Bezos vs ping pong robot
Yeah. It did happen! Although there’s little footage available of how he actually played, you can still get an idea of how it happened at the Amazon's MARS Conference in March 2018:
Where can I find table tennis robot drills?
If we’re talking about Amicus Butterfly model, then there are about 20 drills that have already been pre-recorded for you to practice with. However, if you’re using less sophisticated models, then you can scour tennis forums and expert websites. These are a few ideas: drills from Expert Table Tennis; from Newgy experts; from the forum of tennis enthusiasts
Comparative chart of Ping Pong Robots
|Robo-Pong | Newgy ||40+ balls |
Bucket extender capacity: 200 balls
Compatibility: 110V and 220v
Frequency: 26 to 94 balls per minute.
Max ball speed: under 80 MPH and is on a scale from 1 - 10.
Spins: topspin, backspin, left sidespin, right sidespin, combination spin
Shot selection: push, chop, serve, counter, lob, fast loop
|Table Tennis Training Robot | iPong ||100+ balls |
Tray capacity: 50 balls
Frequency: 30 to 70 balls per minute
Compatibility: 110V and 220v; all standard size table tennis tables (9'x5'); 40 mm iPong balls
Spins: topspin, backspin
Shot selection: multi-tiered iPong elevation tool is designed to change ball trajectory and increase shot. 3 heights: 9mm,17mm, or 26mm
Adds-on: wireless remote & digital display
|Table Tennis Robot for Training | HUI PANG ||110 balls |
Ball speed: 4-40 m/s
Spins: 2 wheels drive (multi-spin, up and down, right and left)
Adds-on: wired remote
|Double-End Robot | HUI PANG ||120 balls |
Ball speed: 4-40 m/s
Spins: multi-spin, up and down, right and left
|Butterfly Amicus Prime Table Tennis Robot | Butterfly ||Frequency: up to 120/minutes |
Spins: Topspin, Backspin, Left Sidespin, Right Sidespin, Top/Left Spin, Top/right Spin, Back/Left Spin, Back/Right Spin, No Spin
Shots: Slow Loop, Counter, Fast Loop, Push, Chop, Lob, Serve, Dead Block, Flat Kill, Smash, Heavy Chop, Heavy Serve
Add-ons: Android Tablet, downloadable app for smartphone use; carry bag and net
More advanced robots are certainly for professionals, so if you’re only starting out and need some practice, then choose anything from our list except for Butterfly model, which is made with pros in mind. I think we see more and more of these new robots coming, so prepare to spend and enjoy the play!