Automating Gym Class

Toyota’s Basketball Robot Can Nail Three-Pointers

Swish!

4. 1. 19 by Dan Robitzski
Stefan Schulz/Alexander Lesnitsky via Pixabay/Tag Hartman-Simkins
Image by Stefan Schulz/Alexander Lesnitsky via Pixabay/Tag Hartman-Simkins

Gym Class Hero

Toyota is on a mission to automate the NBA — it’s built a six-foot-ten robot called Cue 3 that can nail three-pointers all day long.

In a demo for The Associated Press, Cue 3 successfully threw five shots from the three-point line out of eight attempts — which would be really good for a professional human player, and shows that robots are starting to handle more complex physical maneuvers than ever before.

Computer Vision

Cue 3 looks like it was draped in chainmail — Toyota told the AP that it deliberately wanted to avoid the sleek, white Apple Store-esque look seen in “iRobot” and other common renderings of humanoid robots.

Keeping with that image, Cue 3 doesn’t have a humanoid face. Rather, sensors in its torso create a 3D map of its surroundings that allow the robot to calculate how hard and high to toss the basketball.

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Today’s robots, for all their bells and whistles — and sleek, iPhone-like designs — still generally excel only at extremely narrow tasks, be it assembling a car or shuttling items in a warehouse. As such, Cue 3 can’t run, dribble, or dunk.

But it excels at what it does. And given the complexity of successfully sinking a three-pointer — something this writer could never nail in gym class — Toyota’s sportsbot may signify a new era for precision tasks in robotics.

READ MORE: Toyota robot can’t slam dunk but shoots a mean 3-pointer [The Associated Press]

More on basketball: AI Coaches Are Here To Unleash Your Inner LeBron

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