Latest in Tomorrow

Image credit: Andy Cheung via Getty Images

These AI-generated tennis matches are both eerie and impressive

Watch Roger Federer play himself.
2105 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Sponsored Links

LONDON, ENGLAND - JULY 14: Roger Federer of Switzerland play a forehand in his Men's Singles final against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during Day thirteen of The Championships - Wimbledon 2019 at All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Andy Cheung/Getty Images)
Andy Cheung via Getty Images

Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, there was no Wimbledon Championship this year. But that didn’t stop a team of researchers from Stanford University simulating the annual tournament with the help of artificial intelligence.

The team trained their AI using a database of annotated footage. The cyclical nature of tennis helped them create a statistical model that predicts how stars like Novak Djokovic and Roger Federer will play in certain situations.

The model does this by taking into account common tennis strategies and the tendencies of each player. Through its training, it knows, for instance, that Djokovic likes to hit the ball toward his opponent's weak side. Similarly, the model also considers how players tend to position themselves while waiting for their opponent to return the ball. It will consistently place Federer closer to the baseline than Rafael Nadal, reflecting how those two play the game in real life. According to the team that created the AI, it's this behavioral aspect that separates their project from past attempts to create a system that can simulate tennis play.

Those capabilities allow the system to create potentially endless what-if scenarios. It can generate footage of Federer playing against himself or Serena Williams. It can even extrapolate how a match may have played out differently had a single shot landed in a different location. What's more, the system allows you to control a player's shot placement and recovery position, so there's the potential a studio could adapt it for gaming.

Of course, it’s not perfect. While the researchers did their best to hide potentially distracting visual artifacts like changing lighting and player clothing, there are moments where the clips look more like they’re ripped straight from a 90s FMV game. As you can see from the clip above, fans and officials don't move at all. Another factor that breaks the illusion is that the ball and players don't cast shadows. It also looks like they're skating across the surface of the court. Still, it's an impressive system that could have a lot of fun applications.

All products recommended by Engadget are selected by our editorial team, independent of our parent company. Some of our stories include affiliate links. If you buy something through one of these links, we may earn an affiliate commission.
Comment
Comments
Share
2105 Shares
Share
Tweet
Share

Popular on Engadget

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

NVIDIA apologizes for RTX 3080 order chaos

View
TikTok and WeChat will be banned from US app stores on Sunday

TikTok and WeChat will be banned from US app stores on Sunday

View
You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

You’ll need more than $299 to truly enjoy next-gen gaming

View
The Morning After: PS5 and RTX 3080 rollouts are frustrating for gamers

The Morning After: PS5 and RTX 3080 rollouts are frustrating for gamers

View
Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

Apple iPad (2020) hands-on: A better kind of basic

View

From around the web

Page 1Page 1ear iconeye iconFill 23text filevr