Ben Simmons, watch out! Automation is coming for everyone’s job, and in light of the U.S. basketball team’s loss to France on Sunday, the robots might take over the hardwood soon. A free-throw shooting robot was part of yesterday’s halftime festivities, and it looks like the programmers used Don Nelson videos to train the automaton – but hey, it works.
Though still unverified, the 6’10”, 200-pound robot is most likely the Toyota Cue 4, the fourth iteration of a side project that was originally started by the company’s development team in 2016. The robot uses sensors in its torso to compute a three-dimensional of the basket’s placement and then positions its arms and knees to give it the best odds of hitting nothing but net.
Cue 4 is not only an excellent free throw shooter, however. It can also nail three-pointers at a remarkable clip. Toyota has been working on humanoids since 2005, and the Cue 4 is their latest evolution in AI-assisted robotics. It was originally unveiled two years ago, and while it can’t dribble or slam dunk yet, the robot is able to run thanks to an “integrated electric motor.” Tomohiro Nomi, a Toyota engineer who worked on Cue 3, was asked by MarketWatch when to expect slam-dunking robots. “In 20 years,” he said, “with technological advances.”
Maybe the new Space Jam movie was telling us something we don’t know after all. Take a look at the Cue 4 shooting for distance in the tweet below and let us know if the Sixers should push for a trade with Toyota.