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‘Hoops’ The Robot Gets A Tune-Up

By: Dave Crawley
(Photo: KDKA)

(Photo: KDKA)

CRAWLEY Dave Crawley
Dave Crawley joined KDKA in April of 1988 where he reports on the...
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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – A basketball shooting robot known as “Hoops” has been a Carnegie Science Center attraction for 17 years.

The master of the foul line gets lots of practice, firing up 1,000 shots a day.

But, lead robotics technician Doug DeHaven said Hoops may be showing his age.

“It’s been missing the hoop ever so slightly, so I’ve been trying to dial that in,” DeHaven said.

He has spent hours tweaking the robot.

“Recently, we noticed the arm accuracy was going down from the high 90s to the about 60 percent. We were quite shocked at that and wanted to find out why,” DeHaven said.

All in the wrist? Not in this case.

“The problem he had was in his shoulder. His shoulder was actually wearing out So the technician came in and fine tuned it, and we tightened it up and fine tuned it from there,” DeHaven said.

DeHaven said Hoops wasn’t built for basketball.

“It was actually a robotic welder on an automobile assembly line. We bought it brand new, with the idea of using it as a basketball shooting robot,” DeHaven said.

The three-ton iron man has taken his show on the road, to every major science center in the country.

But, the original robotic arm is no longer being manufactured. When the motor gives out, Hoops will be forced to retire.

In the meantime, the 17-year veteran remains an inspiration to his human counterparts.

“You’ve got to learn the game,” DeHaven said. “You’ve got to adjust for it. And just as it is with environmental changes, same with player changes. You’ve got to make sure you keep up with your game.”

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