Chess-playing robot star of Taiwan tech fair

A chess-playing robot stole the show as Asia’s largest tech fair kicked off in Taiwan with artificial intelligence centre stage.
The annual Computex trade show in Taipei comes as Taiwan’s President Tsai Ing-wen seeks to boost the island’s economy with her “Asian Silicon Valley” project, nurturing startups and attracting investments from major international companies.
The full-size robot impressed visitors by taking a pawn piece in a mocked-up chess game.
Inventors say they envisage the machine having a range of uses, from working on assembly lines to care-giving.
“It can recognise the shape of a small chess pawn, notify its brain, execute AI movements and interact with its opponent,” said division director Lewis Liu of the Industrial Technology Research Institute of Taiwan, which built the robot.
Enabled by an intelligent vision system, the robot can also detect how much is left in your coffee cup to determine if it needs to be refilled.
Taiwan has already introduced a troop of mini-robots going by the name of “Pepper” into workplaces.
They were launched at two banks and an insurance company in Taipei last year, dancing to music, playing with children in lobbies and leading staff aerobics sessions.
US electric car company Tesla also emphasised the importance of artificial intelligence as it exhibited its Model S and X vehicles at the fair for the first time.
The US automaker entered the Taiwan market last September. “We are on our way to become fully driverless,” said Hans Li, marketing and communications manager for Tesla in Taiwan.
Checking out the car models was Taiwan’s Vice President Chen Chien-jen, who said the government had set up an AI lab with the private sector last month and described the field as a “key focus for our nation’s development”.