Toyota Robot Sinks 2,020-Straight Free Throws

Last month, Digital Trends released a 38-second video on Twitter showcasing one of the latest Toyota innovations: a free-throw draining robot.

The human-like machine splashed 2,020 free throws in a row, setting a new Guiness World Record. The robot is known as CUE, and its creation and accomplishment are meant to celebrate the upcoming 2020 Olympics that will be held in Tokyo.

CUE formulates a 3-D image of the basket using censors in the torso of its nearly seven-foot frame, with motors where human elbow and knee joints would be to finish the job.

Although this video only shows the robot draining free throws, it can do more. It used to only be able to shoot from the charity stripe, but now it can hit three pointers at a pretty decent clip. CUE still can’t dribble, dunk or jump yet, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. According to a video on cnet.com, it will be another 20 years until we see a robot dunk.

The Spin on Robot Basketball

Technology is moving at a seemingly lightning-like speed, and it has branched out into nearly every aspect of society. Why not basketball, too?

The concept is interesting: creating an artificial machine that can make 2,020 free throws in a row is fascinating to watch, and it’s a feat that I can’t see a human accomplishing, at least not until we cross-breed with robots. But then, would it be a human or robotic accomplishment?

But what practical purpose does it serve? The only one I can think of, other than entertainment (which is completely valid), is to improve upon what humans can do. It won’t be for a very long time, if ever, that this comes, but could robots one day replace humans in sports such as basketball? AI can be much more capable than their human counterparts, who are contained by size, strength and other limitations on our bodies. When robots are at a point decades down the line where they can perform equally or better than human in high-level sporting events, will people prefer to watch the humans or robots?

I can’t imagine watching anything but humans play basketball, or any sport for that matter. The human element is a major part of the draw for me, and not only would I be less in awe watching machines do the unimaginable, but it would lack the emotional aspect of sports that is so compelling. But that doesn’t mean people wouldn’t flock to robot sports en masse, leaving human athletics behind as a relic of the past. It’s unbelievable to consider, but 30 years ago, it would have been unbelievable to consider the medium I’m using to communicate this to you now.

Do you think robot sports will ever become a thing, and if so, do you think they will overtake or even replace human sports?

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