A basketball-shooting robot? Ivy Tech made one

FORT WAYNE, Ind. — Ivy Tech Community College’s Fort Wayne Campus debuted a robot last week at the Mad Ants game as part of a Man vs. Machine partnership with the team.

Instructors and students from various College programs worked on the robot, which can shoot free throws and three-pointers. Involved programs are engineering, Machine Tool Technology, Advanced Automation and Robotics Technology, Industrial Technology, Automotive Technology, and Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning Technology.

Ivy Tech’s basketball-shooting robot is shown. (Ivy Tech Community College)

The robot, which Ivy Tech calls Mad Ants 2.0, is the third robot to debut at the Mad Ants. In 2015, the first robot delivered the game ball to the referee at the beginning of the game, rolling to him and popping up the ball. Last year, the second robot, which looked like an ant, pulled the ball behind it while it walked onto the court. Mad Ants 2.0, the first to shoot the ball, is considerably more involved than its predecessors, incorporating a programmable logic controller, a computer that uses sensors to control the system; speed control using pulse width modulation, a digital technique to control the monitors; and upgrades in electrical and mechanical components.

“Everybody’s always curious about what it’ll do and how it’ll do it and how accurate is it,” says Bob Parker, one of the instructors to work on the project. “It’s fun to watch it.”

At the robot’s Man vs. Machine debut, which pits Mad Ants 2.0 against a fan, each had 30 seconds to make as many three-pointers as he could. The result? A tie, 2-2.

“Starting off, we were worried the robot wouldn’t make a basket at all, and right off the bat it made two in its debut shoot-off,” says Kevin Bloom, business development manager for the Mad Ants. “We couldn’t be happier with how it turned out and can’t wait to see it win Man vs. Machine battles the remainder of the season.”

Fans will participate in Man vs. Machine during the following Mad Ants home games this season: Feb. 25 and March 9, 17, and 23.

Click here to learn more about the robot and see a video of it in action.

SOURCE: Ivy Tech Community College