Remember those dueling lightsaber robots? Robotics students at Stanford University have taken things one step further and taught a mechanical arm to spar with human opponents. Fortunately, the "Jedibot" isn't mobile, so a cowardly retreat is still an option.

The students programmed the robot to duel for Professor Oussama Khatib's Intro to Robotics class. Says the University:

[Students] figured out a way to use off-the-shelf technology to make it work by incorporating the Microsoft Kinect sensor, which is best known as part of the Xbox game console. The color sensor can detect objects in three-dimensional space.

"We use the color image to isolate the sword from the background, because the opponent's sword is green and nothing else in the background is green," said graduate student Ken Oslund, who helped design what he calls the "JediBot," named in homage to the lightsaber-wielding characters from the Star Wars movies.

The JediBot was programmed over the course of three-and-a-half weeks, just long enough for the mechanical arm not to process that its laser sword was actually a foam bat.

[Stanford University via IEEE Spectrum]