Think you’re great at “Flappy Bird?” Think again. This Chinese robot probably has you beat. Developers Liu Yang and Shi Xuekun created a robot that’s astonishingly adept at playing the frustrating app. The machine uses a webcam to detect the game’s obstacles and pipes, along with an Arduino board to manipulate an arm that touches the screen with a touch-sensitive pen.
The two creators detailed the process of creating the robot, here in this video.
The original “Flappy Bird” was published in May by Vietnam-based Gears Studio. At one point, the title was being downloaded 2 million to 3 million times per day and pulling in $50,000 in ad revenue daily in Google Play and Apple iOS stores. It topped the free category of downloadable games in the American and Chinese iTunes App Store at the end of January 2014.
As the game grew in popularity, criticism of “Flappy Bird” began to gain traction. Many people accused "Flappy Bird” of being too similar to 1985’s “Super Mario Bros.” Kotaku even called the mobile game “plagiarism” and “ripped art.” Another blogger questioned whether the massive success of “Flappy Bird” was due to the use of bots or fake accounts run by computers to falsely create downloads or reviews. “Looking at some of the top apps in the store by Nguyen, I hate to say it, but it looks really similar to bot activity,” Carter Thomas, of online marketing company Bluecloud Solutions, said in a blog post earlier this month.
Nguyen removed the game on Feb. 9, claiming it was due to the amount of criticism and negative press it was receiving. “I am sorry, 'Flappy Bird' users, 22 hours from now, I will take 'Flappy Bird' down. I cannot take this anymore,” Nguyen tweeted. He also denied that he was asked to remove the app by Nintendo, a speculation made by many gaming sites. “It is not anything related to legal issues. I just cannot keep it anymore,” he said in a post on Feb. 8.
Since its deletion, knockoffs of the title are appearing everywhere -- and Apple and Google are cutting the cord on “Flappy Bird” clones. Both companies are taking action against eager developers hoping to make a quick buck from the post-frenzy of “Flappy Bird," banning knockoffs from the iOS and Google Play stores. Of course, if you're lucky enough to still have the app installed on your phone, you can sell it for profit or attempt to beat the high score of a persistent robot.