You don’t have to be NBA star Lebron James to score basket after basket like a pro. You don’t even have to be human.
Meet CUE, a humanoid robot trained by AI to shoot basketballs. Built by employees of Toyota in Japan, the humanoid robot was unveiled in the B League 1, a professional men’s basketball league in Japan, playing for Arvalq Tokyo, and “was able to record a higher shot percentage than any Japanese professional,” according to Newsweek.
CUE has a geeky origin story. It’s modeled after the character Sakuragi Hanamichi from the Japanese manga comic “Slam Dunk.” The character fell in love with basketball after being rejected by girls.
Sadly, CUE looks more like something out of the movie “Annihilation” than the comic book human that inspired it. CUE doesn’t even have a face.
CUE can shoot from 12 feet (3.6 meters) away and can make 200,000 different shots with almost perfect accuracy, thanks to its AI training.
In a video posted on YouTube by the Asahi Shimbun newspaper, CUE wears a basketball jersey and shorts, shooting baskets one by one to the astonishment of pro basketball players watching from the sidelines.
But while CUE’s shooting range is remarkable, its defense skills on the court are sorely lacking. CUE stands on a platform connected by power cables, and can’t move freely around the court. So while CUE’s shooting abilities are impressive, NBA basketball stars like James can breathe easy. CUE probably isn’t coming for their jobs … yet.