Toyota Makes Robot that Shoots Free Throws like a Pro

Category: Technology/Innovations


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. impressive / ɪmˈprɛs ɪv / (adj) – describing something that attracts attention, admiration, and respect

    The members of the winning team have shown impressive skills.

  2. consecutive / kənˈsɛk yə tɪv / (adj) – one following another without being interrupted

    The team won after the captain successfully made two consecutive free throws.

  3. execute / ˈɛk sɪˌkyut / (v) – to do or perform something

    He executed an excellent three-point shot, allowing his team to be in the lead.

  4. record-breaking / ˈrɛk ərd ˈbreɪ kɪŋ / (adj) – describing something that does better than a previous record or achievement

    The game attracted a record-breaking crowd of 60,000.

  5. master / ˈmæs tər / (v) – to become very good at doing something

    After years of training, he was finally able to master different swimming strokes.


Read the text below.

A new robot created by a team of Toyota engineers set a Guinness World Record after demonstrating its impressive free-throw shooting skills.

Toyota Motor Corporation’s robot, CUE3, completed 2,020 consecutive basketball free throws in a demonstration last May. According to Toyota, the number of CUE3’s shots is in honor of the 2020 Olympic and Paralympic Games that is going to happen in Tokyo.

The robot, which stands six feet and ten inches, started as an unofficial project of some Toyota employees. The engineers, who were all new to AI, developed the robot during their free time.

The very first CUE robot could only hit shots from the free-throw range, but CUE3 can shoot from different distances, even from the three-point line. To execute perfect shots, the robot uses sensors on its torso to calculate the basket’s distance and angle. It also has motors inside its arms and knees that allow it to repeat the correct shooting movement multiple times.

In a separate demonstration meant to test CUE3’s ability to make three-point shots, the robot was able to score 62.5% of the time. This figure beats NBA player Kyle Korver’s single season record of 53.6% and two-time NBA MVP Stephen Curry’s average of 43.6%.

Although the AI robot made some record-breaking shots, it still has to learn more skills, such as running, dribbling, and jumping. As Japanese professional basketball player Yudai Baba of the Alvark Tokyo said, human players are still better for now. He said, however, that he was ready to let CUE3 play as a full-fledged player on his team if the robot could master more skills.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Do you think it is possible for CUE3 to be a full-fledged basketball player? Why or why not? Explain.
• How do you think having a robot like CUE3 can affect the outcome of a basketball match? Discuss.

Discussion B

• If you were to develop a technology in honor of the 2020 Olympics, what would it be? Discuss.
• What do you think are the possible challenges you may encounter in developing this technology?