This video shows some different progress with the AI Challenge. The previous video demonstrated how the computer was directly manipulating the joints through a neural network. In this video, there's a proportional controller attached to each joint, which only tries to get the angles of each joint to some particular value.
These values are set by a joystick that I attached to the computer. I've tried to control the arms directly, but that's basically hopeless. Besides just looking at the position, you also need to control the angular velocities at the same time for three arms at a time. This implementation therefore reduces the "cognitive stress" and already it's starting to make it possible to make predictions and expectations and to (sometimes) actually hit the ball. It remains somewhat difficult however.
So far, I haven't used IK solvers or any complicated math theories to do this, just one observation of angles and a direct reaction to whether that angle is desirable or not. The intention is to see how far I could take this and see if that is actually useful. Right now, I am supplying the angles directly, but progress can still be made to possibly focus on controlling something else (the hand?) and see if the simulation can iteratively figure out how to get there or something. The rest of the solution can then be given to understand the trajectory of the ball in a really simple way, find out when it's in range and where that will be and finally project a path (over time) where the joints actually need to start doing something.