This robot will school you at freethrows

People spend years of their lives practicing on the courts to get the kind of accuracy that this robot achieves. It is able to shoot freethrows thanks to stereoscopic camera analysis of the target. We know what you’re thinking; big deal, it knows the distances which makes the calculations easy. That’s not the case, look a bit closer in the image above. The basket itself is mounted on a robotic platform and creates a randomly moving target. It looks like shots are only taken when the basket is stationary. But still, that means the system is able to calculate accurate throws when the basket is not only at varying distances, but also when it is not directly in front and not square to the arm of the robot. The accuracy relies on analyzing the square on the backboard of the basket. Because two cameras give different perspectives, edge and corner detection of both images allow the system to extrapolate the location of the target.

After the fold there’s a video of this robot being demonstrated to the public. Apparently the yellow-armed-monster isn’t suitable for public consumption because the developers have covered it with the body of a plush seal.


  1. jd says:

    Jesus. Because there’s nothing creepy about a fuzzy seal with metal pincers coming out of it’s mouth!

  2. solex says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but a seal with a robotic gripper coming out of it’s mouth is far more terrifying than a standard industrial robot arm.

  3. Gdogg says:

    Add sound effects and that is what dreams are made of

  4. Kevin says:

    This is by far one of the creepiest things I’ve ever seen.

  5. Alex says:

    That’s not a robot, it’s a seal dressed up as a robot

  6. VEC7OR says:

    And I thought that the plush seal was only a witty remark by the author… o_O

  7. Zer0 says:

    this seal is at bottom of the uncanny valley

  8. JC says:

    We’ve got a few Staublis where I work. That’s an expensive free-throw machine!

  9. Amos says:

    @Zer0: exactly

    This would be impressive if it did half-court three-pointers while the basket moves and spins on its vertical axis.

    Also, it needs to run on an Arduino, for blog cred.

  10. Spork says:

    Should have used vacuum or the coffee-ground balloon trick so you don’t need a claw coming out of the seal’s mouth.

    I’m sure calculations would be similarly difficult/easy to make regardless of which method.

  11. Frogz says:

    I don’t know about anyone else, but a seal with a robotic gripper coming out of it’s mouth is far more awesome than a standard industrial robot arm.

  12. Ben says:

    I will not be surprised if I have nightmares about this. They could have at least had the gripper inside of the seal’s mouth to hide it a bit.

    Did this remind anyone else of Alien?

  13. Jeff says:

    notice that the “seal” is throwing at a mirror image of the parabolic trajectory plus a certain percentage for air friction. The hard part of this is using the cameras to locate the basket.

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