basketball robot Cue 3, the 207-centimeter (six-foot-10) -tall machine
made five of eight three-pointer shots in a demonstration in a Tokyo
suburb Monday, a ratio its engineers say is worse than usual. (AP
Tokyo (AP) -
It can’t dribble, let alone slam dunk, but Toyota’s basketball robot
hardly ever misses a free throw or a 3-pointer.
The 207-centimeter (six-foot,
10-inch)-tall machine made five of eight 3-point shots in a
demonstration in a Tokyo suburb Monday, a ratio its engineers say is
worse than usual.
Toyota Motor Corp.’s robot, called
Cue 3, computes as a three-dimensional image where the basket is, using
sensors on its torso, and adjusts motors inside its arm and knees to
give the shot the right angle and propulsion for a swish.
Efforts in developing human-shaped
robots underline a global shift in robotics use from pre-programmed
mechanical arms in limited situations like factories to functioning in
the real world with people.
The 2017 version of the robot was
designed to make free throws.
Yudai Baba, a basketball player
likely representing host Japan at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, took part in
the demonstration and also missed a couple of shots. If the robot could
learn a few more tricks, he was ready to accept the robot on the team,
“We human players are still better
for now,” he said.
Right after missing, the robot
slumped over. It wasn’t disappointment, but a temporary power failure.
Cue 3’s name is supposed to reflect
the idea the technology can serve as a cue, or signal of great things to
come, according to Toyota.
The company plays down how the
technology might prove useful. It’s more about boosting morale among
engineers, making them open to ideas and challenges.
In making the robot’s outer
covering something like that of an armadillo, the engineers said they
were just trying to avoid the white metallic look often seen on robots.
The maker of the Camry sedan, Prius
hybrid and Lexus luxury models has shown off various robots, including
one that played a violin. Another, resembling R2-D2 of Star Wars, slides
around and picks up things. At Monday’s demonstration, it handed the
basketball to Cue 3.
Experts say robots that can mimic
human movements, even doing them better, could prove useful in various
ways, including picking crops, making deliveries, and working in
factories and warehouses.
Stanford University Professor
Oussama Khatib, who directs the university’s robotics lab, said Cue 3
demonstrates complex activities such as using sensors and nimble
computation in real-time in what he called “visual feedback.”
To shoot hoops, the robot must have
a good vision system, be able to compute the ball’s path then execute
the shot, he said in a telephone interview.
“What Toyota is doing here is
really bringing the top capabilities in perception with the top
capabilities in control to have robots perform something that is really
challenging,” Khatib said.
Japan has been aggressive in
developing humanoids, including those that do little more than offer
Toyota’s rival Honda Motor Co. has
its Asimo, a culmination of research into creating a walking robot that
started in the 1980s. It not only can run, but also recognize faces,
avoid obstacles, shake hands, pour a drink and carry a tray.
When will such robots be able to
slam dunk, a feat that will require running, dribbling and jumping?
“In 20 years, with technological
advances,” said Tomohiro Nomi, a Toyota engineer who worked on Cue 3.
In this Oct. 11, 2018, file photo, Evan Sharp, Pinterest
co-founder and chief product officer, poses for a photo, standing beside a
wall of pegs symbolizing the company logo at Pinterest headquarters in San
Francisco. Pinterest is pinning its future on Wall Street, with the digital
scrapbooking site on Friday, March 22, 2019, filing for an initial public
offering of stock. (AP Photo/Ben Margot, File)
Rachel Lerman & Barbara Ortutay
San Francisco (AP) -
Pinterest is pinning its future on Wall Street, with the digital
scrapbooking site filing for an initial public offering of stock on March
It follows a similar filing with
securities regulators earlier last month by ride-hailing company Lyft in
what is shaping up to be a busy season for technology IPOs. Also expected to
sell stock to the public in the coming weeks: Lyft rival Uber and messaging
Pinterest said in its filing that it
intends to list itself on the New York Stock Exchange using the ticker
symbol “PINS.” The company hasn’t yet said how many shares it’s selling in
the IPO or how much money it intends to raise.
The San Francisco-based company had
revenue of $756 million last year, a 60 percent bump from 2017. It had a
loss of $63 million last year, compared to a loss of $130 million in 2017.
Pinterest allows people to search for
and “pin” images as inspiration for fashion, interior design, travel and
The company said it has more than 250
million users each month, and users have saved more than 175 billion pins
since the site was launched.
Pinterest has raised nearly $1.5
billion in the private markets, and was last valued at $12.3 billion in
2017, according to PitchBook Data.
Pinterest has long shunned being
labeled a social network. Because of that, it doesn’t push users to add
friends or build connections. It also means it’s been able to avoid problems
of its larger rivals like Facebook.
But despite the lack of friend
networks, many advertisers likely still consider Pinterest to be part of
their “social” budgets, said eMarketer analyst Andrew Lipsman, meaning it
competes in part with Facebook, Snapchat and others.
Pinterest makes advertising revenue
when businesses promote pins in users’ feeds. Pinterest has the potential to
be more valuable than most digital media to advertisers, Lipsman said,
because it has direct information about what a user wants.
It’s all clear in the search - if a
user is searching for new floor lamps or diamond rings, there’s a decent
chance they want to buy those things.
“Visual search has a much bigger impact
in terms of driving desire,” Lipsman said.
Pinterest was founded in 2010 by Ben
Silbermann and Evan Sharp, who still serve as CEO and chief product officer,
The company has been working on
developing its artificial intelligence search, which allows people to take a
photo or upload a screenshot of an item and find similar products on
Like many other tech companies,
including Facebook and Google, Pinterest will create two classes of stock -
one that will give the holder one vote per share, and another that will get
20 votes per share. Shares held by executives and board members will be
converted into shares of the second, more powerful, class. Pinterest’s
filing did not break down the percentage of ownership.