Elite basketball players spend hours on proper technique. Even with years of experience, players like LeBron James have only made 50% of their career shots. A robotic arm can replicate the mechanics needed for the perfect shot – down to exactly balanced wrist and arm movements.

Laser-View Technologies supplied a team of Senior Engineering students at Penn State Altoona with a Dimetix laser distance sensor for their senior capstone project. The students are designing and building an Automated Basketball Shooting Arm for the Electro-Mechanical Engineering Technology (EMET) program at the college. The objective is to create an automated basketball shooting arm that can consistently make free throw shots.

The goal of the project is to successfully make at least 90% of free throw shot attempts while replicating the optimal shooting form of a human shot. There must be realistic arm motions and shots should be made from lengths all on a mobile cart.

The Dimetix laser sensor was utilized to detect the distance of the arm from the hoop. This distance can be implemented into a computer program via the analog output. The program will then use this distance to calculate the corresponding outputs to facilitate the required motion to achieve the desired shot.


Results of the Project

The automated basketball arm resulted in a throwing range of 4ft to 17ft away from the hoop with the current set up at a player height of 6’7″. The system has a record of 34 consecutive free throws!

The laser itself pivots and the mount to used to house the laser and encoder was designed and 3D printed by the group.

In the future, there are plans to vary the height of the mobile cart to simulate different shooter heights and to move the cart to different locations on the basketball court.

The project process from start to finish can be seen in the video below: 


Interested in learning more about Dimetix laser sensors? Contact Laser-View here.