The worst thing that can happen in Settlers of Catan isn’t ending up with settlements that don’t yield any resources, it’s when someone accidentally bumps the board sending roads and cities flying in all directions. So maybe playing Catan is yet another thing we should leave to the robots.
Students from the Computer Science and Mathematics departments of the OTH Regensburg Technical University of Applied Sciences in Germany are working on programming a KUKA industrial robotic arm to play Settlers of Catan. Using cameras above an LCD game board that displays virtual versions of the game's iconic hexagonal pieces, the robot is able to play and interact with human opponents, presumably putting up a good fight.
But it's also able to precisely place the game's settlement, city and road pieces, without the risk of knocking anything out of alignment in the process. If you've ever had a game of Catan end prematurely because someone accidentally bumped everything out of alignment beyond repair, you will no doubt see the value of letting a robot handle all of the game interactions.