❱❱ The mission of the CUE robots is to accurately shoot basketball goals repeatedly from different distances, main image; the 4th generation CUE robot gains mobility and ball selection capabilities, inset; and the T-HR3 robot is under development by Toyota to solve complex remote control precision tasks, panel


The CUE project isn’t Toyota’s first excursion into the world of humanoid robots. The company has long been researching many different aspects of robots, both as fundamental science and in manufacturing applications. One such robot is the T-

HR3, a humanoid robot capable of flexible movements that mirror the actions of a remote human operator using a wearable control system. According to T-HR3’s

development team leader, Tomohisa Moridaira, the future will see a high demand for robots that make effective use of many joints to accomplish delicate tasks in the way that humans do and

The main change the team made in preparation for the record

attempt was to re-engineer the arm and stance mechanics to enable the robot to make consecutive throws. Previously, CUE3 would drop its arm after shooting as part of its follow-through. Now, CUE3 would have to immediately start preparing for the next shot after the ball had left its hand. An important rule in the record attempt is that the only assistance the robot should receive is having the ball placed in position ready for the shot. When the day arrived, ball pressures, shooting distances and the

height of the basket were rigorously checked and CUE3 was ready to make its first throw. The opening five throws were a success and enough in itself to

set a Guinness World Record. It continued to throw successful shots and soon 200 goals were achieved, matching the best it had performed in tests. Now it was entering uncharted territory and after 6 hours and 35

minutes of continuous throwing, testing the endurance of the robot as well as the adjudicator and Toyota engineers, CUE3 entered the record books with 2020 consecutive basketball free throws. In just over half a year, the team had moved CUE3 on from

scoring one shot in every 30, with a minute’s preparation time for each shot, to achieving unerring accuracy for over 2000 shots, each one taking just 12 seconds.

that can operate safely even when they are in contact with the world around them. The T-HR3 has redundant

degrees of freedom, giving it alternative “routes” to achieving the same end as well as a certain degree of joint failure tolerance. “Having redundant degrees

of freedom allows for greater diversity in how the robot can move, including allowing it to scoop up from under an object or to take it from the side,” says Moridaira. With its remote control

system, where the robot mimics the motion of the controller, the potential applications are vast for such technology.

PLAYER IN MOTION More than two years after the CUE project began, the team was enjoying the success of a world record attempt and developing the fourth generation of its basketball robot: CUE4. The new challenge was for the robot to perform a “three point

shootout”, a routine that requires it to make five successful shots from five different positions, meaning CUE4 must become mobile. In order to realise swift movement, the power and

communication cables previously connected to the robot needed to be eliminated and it was necessary to develop and install a small, powerful specialised motor. And according to the Toyota team, CUE4 required a total revision of everything, from the sensors and internal framework through to the AI algorithms. Already used to a string of successes with the robot, the team

took CUE4 to a basketball match in Hokkaido, where the three point shootout was performed successfully before a sell-out stadium. The R&D budget Toyota is pouring into producing a string of

basketball playing robots is no folly. Payback may still be a long way into the future but by developing free-movement robotics, precise control and advanced AI, there is no doubt that Toyota will be harvesting the rewards for decades to come. T&TH

April 2020 /// Testing & Test Houses /// 15

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