This Sunday (25), the French basketball team surprised the United States, getting the better of 83 to 76. During the break, a little robot dressed in an Olympic uniform amused the spectators with shooting without mistakes. Check out the mechanical athlete earning three points in the video below, published by Ann Killion, sports columnist for the San Francisco Chronicle.
A basketball robot. For your pleasure. pic.twitter.com/5LZF2vpwNg
— Ann Killion (@annkillion) July 25, 2021
An AI specialized in basketball
This “little boy” with almost two meters in height is part of the CUE robot family. According to Toyota’s global website, which chronicles the trajectory of the “athlete”, the project was developed by company volunteers during their free time and was presented for the first time at an event of the Toyota Engineering Society, which had as its theme “engineers embark on the challenge of developing an AI from scratch”.
Employees needed to learn about the technology, but they didn’t know how or where to start. While discussing the topic, one of the members quoted Hanamichi Sakuragi, protagonist of the manga SLAM DUNK: “Will practicing 20,000 throws be enough?”. The phrase motivated professionals to embark on the theme of sport.
During the event, in which CUE scored nine out of 10 attempts, the robot caught the attention of Alvark Tokyo, a Japanese professional basketball club, and participated in an Olympic-like presentation during a half-time match.
The public reaction was positive and motivated Toyota management to give developers more freedom to improve the CUE in 2018.
Several new versions have been released over the past two years and he is currently owned by the AI Robot Athlete Development Group at Toyota’s Frontier Research Center, participating in presentations during breaks from Japanese games.
CUE3 was transferred from Alvark Tokyo to the Levanga Hokkaido team in 2019, further evidencing the “boy’s” popularity, but he returned to the original club in 2020.
In 2019, the third-generation robot set the Guinness record for “most consecutive free throws by a humanoid robot (with assistance)” with 2020 baskets — in honor of the Olympics.
The last version documented by the company was the CUE 4, which wore the shirt with the number 94, but, as it was possible to observe on Sunday, the AI was with the regatta 95., so perhaps the CUE5 is already a reality.