Even though Olympians are the stars of the Tokyo Games, several robots have stolen the spotlight these past few days. Thanks to the Tokyo 2020 Robot Project, event organizers are using robots for the full duration of the Olympics to “demonstrate a positive future for the world by promoting widespread social use of robotic technologies.”
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For the halftime show of U.S. Men’s Basketball’s 83-76 loss versus France, a robot came onto the court and went 3-for-3 from the free-throw line behind the arc (3-pointer) from half-court.
Here’s the free-throw make:
And the half-court shot:
Kudos to the innovators at Toyota for engineering such a skillful, talented machine, yet aesthetically look terrifying at a listed 6’10”.
Maybe its single-eye feels reminiscent of the cyclops, a creature from Greek mythology. Or possibly, the bodywork of the robot looks eerily similar to a villain featured in Marvel Studio’s 2011 feature film Thor:
Known as CUE, Toyota’s third iteration of the robot made 2,020 free throws consecutively to set a Guinness world record two years ago.
The record is for the greatest number of free throws made in a row by a humanoid AI-powered machine.
C’mon Team USA, who shot 36% from the field. Don’t tell me CUE is what this group needs to win a gold medal?
The 95 on the robot’s jersey signifies the 5.0 (fifth) model from the CUE developers. In 2019, the CUE3, wearing #93, set the world record.
At other Olympic competitions, Field Support Robots (FSRs) have been seen at venues like rugby:
It’s disheartening to think that young kids in the next 5 to 10 years may not have the opportunity to be ballboys or girls if technology like this becomes widespread.
Meeting idols (athletes) is the best part of working the sidelines.
Yet, at the same time, it still felt adorable to observe a robot bring the ball out. And credit goes to those who thought of innovative ways to work around having limited in-person staff at the Olympics because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
When track and field coverage begins stateside on Thursday, robots will be used in the javelin and hammer throw events to bring back objects thrown by the participants.
Robots Of All Shapes & Sizes
It feels like robots are everywhere in Tokyo, not just in and around the venues.
Japan and anime have a long history, which leads to mentioning the 60-foot tall Gundam Robot in Tokyo:
Television viewers watching the triathlon took to social media to point out the fictionalized character from a long-running anime series.
Those on Twitter had fun pointing out how the play-by-play announcer called Gundam a “unicorn robot.”
And, of course, the PxPer butchered the pronunciation too.
More on Toyota, who developed mascot-type robots for these summer games to entertain athletes, staff, and media members on the move around the city.
Meet Miraitowa and Someity:
These mascots are innovations that combine virtual reality and motion capture, and the “cameras mounted on the robots’ foreheads will allow them to recognize when people are nearby and to react to them.”
Imagine how endearing Miraitowa and Someity would’ve been to child spectators if in-person fans attended the Olympics this summer?