There’s a new basketball star in Japan, a top team signing who moves, shoots and scores with admirable accuracy. However, this player is not human. It’s CUE 4 – an artificial intelligence robot developed by Toyota technicians.
CUE 4 is the fourth-generation of automated athlete to take to the basketball court. Previous generations of CUE have publicly demonstrated their high-level skills, with the third-generation CUE being particularly notable for performing a record-breaking 2,020 consecutive free throws.
A key difference with the new CUE 4 is that the robot is now able to ‘run’ from one position to the next. The video below shows CUE 4 amazing spectators with its shooting accuracy around the three-point line at a recent all-star competition.
To raise CUE’s game-playing skills in this way, every element of the robot had to be revised, from its sensors and internal framework, to its artificial intelligence algorithms. Its power cables were replaced with a small and powerful motor, and human-like gripping hands were developed so CUE could grasp a ball for itself, without a human assistant needing to ‘load’ the hand. It was also noted that the swaying of the machine after making a shot was affecting accuracy, so the shooting movement was optimised to keep CUE balanced.
Project leader Tomohiro Nomi said: “Since we were given the chance to continue our development of CUE as part of our work, instead of just in our spare time, we wanted to show what we could do with manufacturing to give people some excitement and exhilaration.
“We also wanted to deliver even more impressive performance to repay the Alvark Tokyo basketball team, who have provided us with support and opportunities up to now, and to our suppliers, who have supported the project and developed special parts for us.”
The Toyota team has made a great start to 2020 and is now looking at what the next steps in the ongoing CUE story might be.