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Basketball-playing robot faces sharp-shooting coach

A sharp-shooting basketball coach faced a world-record robot in a 3-point shot contest.
Basketball-playing robot faces sharp-shooting coach
Posted at 12:13 PM, Jul 20, 2023

In a battle royale organized by energy drink Red Bull, basketball robot CUE6 faced "Lethal Shooter" Chris Matthews in a 3-point shooting contest. 

By all appearances, the two were equally successful. 

The two competitors faced three challenges: From the corner at official NBA 3-point distance; top of the key and out to halfcourt; and top of the key with a 13-inch rim instead of the standard 18-inch rim. 

In the first battle, the robot beat the human as Matthews missed one of two shots, but in the second challenge, the robot missed a shot from the top of the key. Both competitors made a shot using the smaller rim. 

Matthews has gained a following of over 2.4 million followers on Instagram. Although never making it to the NBA, Matthews was a good outside shooter in college, making 39.1% of his 3-point attempts in his final season at St. Bonaventure. 

Now he is the subject of a Red Bull TV film "Life & Basketball: The Rise of Lethal Shooter." The film highlights his journey to becoming a sought-after coach by NBA stars. 

CUE6's developer Tomohiro Nomi said the robot is capable of making shots from the opposite free throw line. It was developed in 2019 by Toyota and set a Guinness World Record for most consecutive free throws made by a humanoid robot. 

It uses multiple cameras to analyze its trajectory. 

Nomi described the weaknesses CUE6 has compared to a human like Matthews. 

"There are just so many things robots can't do. At every challenge, we appreciate the amazing capabilities of humans. The number one thing is probably flexibility. Humans, in a sense, can do anything, but robots can only do certain things at present. That, I feel, is the biggest difference between robots and humans," Nomi said. 

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"I think we can handle things like making it shoot more accurately to the center of the goal, but what about when the ball changes, or the location changes, or while running, or when the ball is moving? Adapting to various scenarios for each and every case is still quite challenging for robots. Perhaps the quickest way to improve would be to learn from a great coach like Lethal Shooter," Nomi added.

Nomi added future goals would be to make CUE6 capable of running. 

"There are quite a few things that can be done with the current CUE that would not be possible in the current state, so that part presents a major technical challenge. It would be like creating an entirely new robot," Nomi said.

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