When boats are launched for the first time, it's customary to smash a bottle of champagne across the bow. But for industrial-robot maker Kuka, its new factory in southwestern Shanghai is being celebrated with a battle between man and machine. On March 11th, the company's squaring off one of its Agilus robots against German table tennis player Timo Boll. While Boll has a storied career of victories against human players, he's playing against a model Kuka says is the fastest in the world. Typically those machines are used for product assembly, loading and unloading, and even painting, but in this case it will be trading volleys over a standard ping pong table.

Man vs. machine, to celebrate a robot factory

This isn't the first time the very same robot has been used for something unusual. Late last year Kuka showed off the KR Agilus model replicating 3D artwork made by Israeli industrial designer Yaron Elyasi. The robot's orange color was also the inspiration for a line of stainless steel luxury watches made by Sevenfriday.

No word yet on if and when a video of the match will be shown off, but you can see a preview of what to expect in the teaser trailer: