Toyota Demos New Basketball-Playing Robot

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If your bracket is busted and watching basketball is just bumming you out, we’ve got an idea for you. Check out this elite athlete that can sink 3-pointers easily, but doesn’t have any skin in the game ... or any skin at all, actually.

Meet Cue 3, a basketball-playing robot developed by Toyota that recently debuted its skills in a Tokyo-area gymnasium.

Cue 3 is 6'10" and, when challenged, was able to sink five 3-pointers on eight attempts — which the robot’s engineers say is actually worse than normal.

The basketball player has been designed to identify a ball using sensors on its chest, then computes a 3D image of where the basket is. The machine "adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to give the shot the right angle and propulsion."

According to recent coverage by the AP, Cue 3’s name reflects Toyota’s perspective on robotics, that “technology can serve as a cue or signal of great things to come.” Usefulness aside, the thought is that automation feats like this will inspire engineers and open them up to new ideas.

While its vision systems allow Cue 3 to mimic human movement, it might be just a little off-putting to watch. Its exterior is described as armadillo-like and, with giant, human-like hands and no facial features, you’ll probably be less creeped out watching real people drive the lane. Additionally, Cue 3 has some work to do in the dunk department — Tomohiro Nomi, a Toyota engineer who worked on Cue 3, told the AP that dunks requiring running, dribbling, and jumping are about 20 years out, with technological advances.”

Image Credit: IEN

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