Toyota robot breaks world record by nailing 2,020 free throws in a row

Toyota robot breaks world record by nailing 2,020 free throws in a row

June 27, 2019 2788 By zazolin

Toyota’s giant human-like robot that shoots basketballs ultra-efficiently has set a Guinness World Record by shooting 2,020 free throws consecutively.

The six foot 10-inch (2.1m) tall humanoid robot can also shoot three-pointers but is unable to move, let alone dribble or dunk.

The robot, called Cue 3, uses a variety of sensors to calculate the correct angle and force of a shot and uses motors to accurately replicate the same motion every time.

Toyota, a Japanese company, opted to complete 2,020 in order to honour the upcoming 2020 Olympic Games, due to be held in Tokyo.

Toyota’s robot makes a three-dimensional image of where the basket is using sensors on its torso.

It then adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to give the shot the right angle and propulsion for a swish.

In a previous demonstration in April, Cue 3 shot five for eight from the three-point line, a ratio its developers claim is far worse than its normal level of performance.

Yudai Baba, a basketball player likely representing host Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, took part in the demonstration and also missed a couple of shots.

If the robot could learn a few more tricks, he was ready to accept the robot on the team, he said.

‘We human players are still better for now,’ he added.

Cue 3’s name is supposed to reflect the idea the technology can serve as a cue, or signal of great things to come, according to Toyota.


It can shoot from the centre circle by computing a 3D image of the basket.

It calculate its relative distance using vision and radar, and then using algorithms.

This transform the data into instructions for its arm, knee and torso motors and sensors.

Cue 3 then adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to give the shot the right angle and propulsion for a swish.

The company plays down how the technology might prove useful. It’s more about boosting morale among engineers, making them open to ideas and challenges.

In making the robot’s outer covering something like that of an armadillo, the engineers said they were just trying to avoid the white metallic look often seen on robots.

Toyota has previously shown off various robots, including one that played a violin.

Experts say robots that can mimic human movements, even doing them better, could prove useful in various ways, including picking crops, making deliveries, and working in factories and warehouses.

Stanford University Professor Oussama Khatib, who directs the university’s robotics lab, said Cue 3 demonstrates complex activities such as using sensors and nimble computation in real-time in what he called ‘visual feedback.’

To shoot hoops, the robot must have a good vision system, be able to compute the ball’s path then execute the shot, he said in a telephone interview.

‘What Toyota is doing here is really bringing the top capabilities in perception with the top capabilities in control to have robots perform something that is really challenging,’ Professor Khatib said.

Japan has been aggressive in developing humanoids, including those that do little more than offer cute companionship.

Toyota’s rival Honda has its Asimo, a culmination of research into creating a walking robot that started in the 1980s. It not only can run, but also recognise faces, avoid obstacles, shake hands, pour a drink and carry a tray.

When will such robots be able to slam dunk, a feat that will require running, dribbling and jumping?

‘In 20 years, with technological advances,’ said Tomohiro Nomi, a Toyota engineer who worked on Cue 3.


It is an issue troubling some of the greatest minds in the world at the moment, from Bill Gates to Elon Musk.

SpaceX and Tesla CEO Elon Musk described AI as our ‘biggest existential threat’ and likened its development as ‘summoning the demon’.

He believes super intelligent machines could use humans as pets.

Professor Stephen Hawking said it is a ‘near certainty’ that a major technological disaster will threaten humanity in the next 1,000 to 10,000 years.

They could steal jobs

More than 60 percent of people fear that robots will lead to there being fewer jobs in the next ten years, according to a 2016 YouGov survey.

And 27 percent predict that it will decrease the number of jobs ‘a lot’ with previous research suggesting admin and service sector workers will be the hardest hit.

As well as posing a threat to our jobs, other experts believe AI could ‘go rogue’ and become too complex for scientists to understand.

A quarter of the respondents predicted robots will become part of everyday life in just 11 to 20 years, with 18 percent predicting this will happen within the next decade.

They could ‘go rogue’

Computer scientist Professor Michael Wooldridge said AI machines could become so intricate that engineers don’t fully understand how they work.

If experts don’t understand how AI algorithms function, they won’t be able to predict when they fail.

This means driverless cars or intelligent robots could make unpredictable ‘out of character’ decisions during critical moments, which could put people in danger.

For instance, the AI behind a driverless car could choose to swerve into pedestrians or crash into barriers instead of deciding to drive sensibly.

They could wipe out humanity

Some people believe AI will wipe out humans completely.

‘Eventually, I think human extinction will probably occur, and technology will likely play a part in this,’ DeepMind’s Shane Legg said in a recent interview.

He singled out artificial intelligence, or AI, as the ‘number one risk for this century’.

Musk warned that AI poses more of a threat to humanity than North Korea.

‘If you’re not concerned about AI safety, you should be. Vastly more risk than North Korea,’ the 46-year-old wrote on Twitter.

‘Nobody likes being regulated, but everything (cars, planes, food, drugs, etc) that’s a danger to the public is regulated. AI should be too.’

Musk has consistently advocated for governments and private institutions to apply regulations on AI technology.

He has argued that controls are necessary in order protect machines from advancing out of human control.