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Badminton Robot Champions Energy Efficiency

Belgian scientists are developing a badminton-playing robot to demonstrate how new software can optimize energy efficiency in production machines.

Jada is the world’s first badminton-playing robot. However, its ultimate purpose is not as a sports partner, but as a test bed to help industry reduce its energy consumption.

“Production machines are continuously consuming energy,” said Wim Symens, technical director of FMTC. “So if we can reduce the energy consumption of these machines, we will be able to significantly reduce the energy consumption of mankind.”

Symons says Jada’s computer-controlled systems are designed to find areas for improvement in machinery design.

So far, tests show that more energy efficient wiring and motor technology can cut wastefulness.

Jada is in the process of being upgraded. Soon the robot will be able to move forwards and backwards, not just side to side.

“If you are a good player at this moment you can still beat this first version of the robot,” said Symens. “But we are working on the second version, and for that one, it will be much more difficult to beat the robot.”

That’s why Symens’ team is getting in a lot of practice. Even though Jada’s game will improve, the ultimate winner, says Symens, will be energy efficiency.

Worldwide energy consumption grew by 1.8% last year. Almost all of the growth in energy consumption took place in emerging economies, with China and India accounting for 90% of the increase. The United States and other counties have been using energy more efficiently.

According to the International Energy Agency (IEA), the United States spends significantly more than Japan and Germany on energy efficiency–related research. In total, the U.S. invested almost $18 billion over the past three decades. More than 10 times the amount Germany has spent and twice as much as Japan.