There are two secrets to building the best machine. The first is to have every component do a specific job, and have the least number of redundancies. The second is to have a bunch of spare parts ready and available not just for every time something breaks, but for adjustments as well.
Finding genuine parts and Mopar accessories is easier today, as online shopping ensures more convenience. Still, there comes the recent news of a three point shooting robot built by Fiat Chrysler. Perfecting the arc of a three point shot is something that can only be done with constant practice and muscle memory. Professional players spend years honing their touch from beyond the arc, and only a select few hit it enough times to make an impact in the game.
The casual observer may remark that building a robot that can do precise actions repeatedly isn’t anything special. In fact, it’s the one thing machines can do better than humans, once everything lines up just right to get the task done, they could do it until they run out of juice. This is technically correct, but these people are oversimplifying the process of getting that one time done.
First, finding genuine parts for a robot with a specific task in mind restricts much of what designers can do with the machine. For example, if the goal was to shoot the ball from a set distance, designers could have easily just built a cannon and calculated the angle and trajectory to make the shot. But, that wasn’t the goal of the robot at all.
Sure, all the machine can do is shoot threes, but its purpose is more than that. When the designers built the robot, their purpose was to showcase robotics in such a way that it wasn’t too complicated or boring. Apparently, the best way to do that was beat an NBA player in a three point shooting contest.
There’s really only one of presenting robotic three point shooting in such a way that would make it impressive and entertaining, and that’s mimicking the human throw. The motion of shooting a basketball requires every muscle from the shoulders to the tips of the fingers to act in concert. That means designers need to replace and adjust every part of the process, from the wind up, to the throw.
Building a robot takes time, especially if the most efficient design doesn’t suit its intended purpose. Nevertheless, no obstacle is enough to dampen the combination of human ingenuity in robotics design.