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Robotics Hardware

Robot Throws First Pitch At Phillies Game 92

RedEaredSlider writes "The first ball at the Phillies-Brewers game will get thrown by a robot — but Roy Halladay's job is still safe. As part of an outreach program and the Phillies' 'Science Day At The Ballpark,' the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science is showcasing a robot made from a Segway and featuring an arm that acts more like a human throwing than an ordinary pitching machine. A pitching machine functions more like a gun, firing a baseball in what amounts to a straight line. But the robot has an armature connected to a hand that was specifically designed for throwing. Another thing the robot can do is identify the strike zone."
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Robot Throws First Pitch At Phillies Game

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  • Hrmmm... (Score:5, Funny)

    by mirix ( 1649853 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:04PM (#35886688)



    not Japan


    • Booing a robot is so abstract.
      • Why exactly do we need an outreach program for robots?

        Are they feeling alienated or excluded from general society in some way?

        If so, might I suggest that instead of trying to make them smarter and follow the 3 laws of robotics, or something like them, we pack C4 around the CPU of each robot so when they go berserk, we can remotely destroy their CPU.

        I hope this will help put down the coming robot revolt.

    • The Twilight Zone [tvrage.com] did it back in 1960.
      • But "The Twilight Zone" has done pretty much EVERYTHING before. Robot pitchers, robot boxers, robot nannies, etc. ad infinitum.
    • baseball


      not Japan


      Considering that the "robots = Japan" meme is bogus, there's no surprise at all.

  • Pitching machine (Score:4, Interesting)

    by vawwyakr ( 1992390 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:05PM (#35886704)
    So traditional pitching machines that have thrown balls just fine and are more efficient at doing so don't count? The funny thing is this is still just a purpose built arm that throws a ball sort of like a human, it can't do anything useful or anything else at all for that matter. Call me when a robot can walk out on the field and throw a ball after it finished driving itself to the ball park.
    • So traditional pitching machines that have thrown balls just fine and are more efficient at doing so don't count?

      My thoughts exactly...

      I went to the article expecting to see a robot walk out on the field and/or standing on it's own and throw a pitch to the strike zone.

    • by sjames ( 1099 )

      They don't really, no. They cannot throw a breaking ball. Practice with the machine until you can hit a home run with every single ball and then go face a real pitcher. He will embarrass you every time. He'll do that through a combination of aerodynamic effects from spinning the ball and by tricking you into thinking he threw it faster or slower than he actually did. A proper arm robot has some chance of managing that.

      Of course, the robot still won't be able to choose pitches strategically based on sizing u

      • by sjames ( 1099 )

        replying to self, I just watched the video, and that robot will never strike anyone out.

        Oh well.

  • That way, we might get to see a few NFL games this fall. (and not one that looks like that dorky Fox NFL robot)
  • First thing that came to mind: Base Wars [wikipedia.org]

    (I thought it was a horrible game, but I had a friend that played it far too much)

    Set in a 24th century wherein baseball team owners have grown tired of paying outrageous player salaries, they decide to replace their rosters with robots.

    Not a bad idea, really...

  • And the crowd rightfully booed. News for Nerds? Not... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/04/20/robot-throw-first-pitch-phillies_n_851732.html [huffingtonpost.com]
  • Oh, great. (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot ( 19622 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @08:25PM (#35886884)

    Now we're replacing politicians with soulless automatons?

    • Now we're replacing soulless automatons with soulless automatons?


    • I was about to make some joke about how the robot did a better job than Barack Obama did last year, but it turned out to not be the case. Obama's pitch [youtube.com] wasn't anywhere near the strike-zone, but at least he made it to the plate. Although when it comes to throwing out the first pitch, Barack Obama is not George W. Bush. [youtube.com] I did not vote for either one of them, just giving credit where credit is due.
      • by treeves ( 963993 )

        Couldn't have been worse than when we went bowling somewhere in the midwest during his election campaign. I think he bowled a game in the 50s or 60s. It's hard to do that badly.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    This does not attempt to throw like a human. Watch the video.

    Science day yields a trebuchet with a remote control.

    • Yes, but it still threw a slightly better pitch than Mariah Carey, so that was alright.
      • Slightly [youtube.com] indeed... although the Mariah Carey is a bit more advanced, since it only needs to be guided by men in giant costumes, not directly controlled.

  • Next I hope they replace the players with robots. And then they could replace the umpires as well. And then they could replace the sportscasters. I am pretty sure all of those jobs could be performed by autonomous machines.

    Then replace the audience with robots.

    And then nuke the whole ensemble from orbit, and our baseball problem will be solved!

    Oh..whats that you say...it wasn't a problem...?...I just really despise this sport. I am pretty sure you could write baseball AI in a couple lines.

    • ...I just really despise this sport. I am pretty sure you could write baseball AI in a couple lines. while(FansNotBored)
      If (IHaveBall)

      If baseball is so easy, then why are you posting on /. instead of, oh I don't know, raking in millions of dollars with the Yankees?

      And in case you claim that human's aren't fast enough to efficiently execute your algorithm, I think that's rubbish: Evaluating whether or not the fans are bored can be easily checked by just having your coach yell at you (a callback method, if you will...nyuk nyuk). Evaluating whether or not you have the ball is trivial. Throwing the ball takes no arguments, and I assume yo

      • by cosm ( 1072588 )
        Twas satire, but your contention raises valid points. It is a very difficult sport, and I apologize if I offended any players. Those offended will have plenty of time to reflect over these comments during each inning and between lulls in the action.
    • by PPH ( 736903 )
      You'll need to add an interrupt handler to call ScratchMyBalls() occasionally or this won't replace human pitchers.
    • You forgot const Boolean FansNotBored=false;
      while !(*FansNotBuzzed)
  • Boring? Baseball wasn't... hmm, so they finally jazzed it up? Multiball! http://theinfosphere.org/Blernsball [theinfosphere.org]
  • I like how they used a Segway, then added a 3rd wheel to it.

  • That makes him better than all the Mets human pitchers. They should sign him!

    - sad Mets fan
    • Fellow sad Mets fan.

      I was at the Thursday double-header the other week and was highly amused by the fan attempting to start a "Bernie Madoff" chant.

      Maybe the Wilpons will be forced to sell...
  • Seriously, though...Roy Halladay is a machine!
  • "Cannon throws first pitch at game; Catcher still in critical condition."

  • by b4upoo ( 166390 ) on Wednesday April 20, 2011 @09:22PM (#35887206)

    Way back in 1959 I worked as a teen in a batting cage. The machines actually did throw much as a human does with an elbow and forearm type of mechanism. It was very realistic as no two balls would ever leave the gutter shaped hand the same way due to starting with the balls laces in different positions. So you could get dusted off or even hit by a ball and curves and balls slightly high or low were also thrown. We had three machines. One was little league speed. One for minor league and the final machine was set up to act like a pro pitcher in the world series. Actually I believe that machine was throwing just a bit faster than any pro pitcher could throw although it was supposedly identical to a hot, fast ball. That machine was actually a bit frightening. A mistake in that cage just might get you hurt. The New York Yankees team members used to drop by and smack balls around. They really do hit balls further than normal people can. I know as I was the kid that had to pick up the balls and we had a full size ball field to cover. At night it took some skill not to be slaughtered by a line drive while gathering balls. Keep in mind that there were three batters firing at me. Those days were pre OSHA and I suppose I was taking on a serious risk. Life was different back then.

  • Oh, and I suppose pitch-o-mat 5000 was just a modified howitzer.
  • It's great that the Phillies sponsored a Science Day at the ballpark.

    And the robot is a pretty cool part of that -- but given that the pitch didn't get even close to being over the plate, I wonder if the students working on the project ran out of time to get things working well for the demo?

    • No, the pitch could have been much, much faster. If they had a real catcher there, it would have made sense for them to send one in there pretty fast. But they had the stupid mascot there, who can't see very well, and so had to dial it down. See discussion at PCMag [pcmag.com]. There are numerous arm pitching machines that can throw ~100 mpg, though not as many as the wheel-based ones.
  • Now we allow them to throw projectiles?!?! Looks like I'll be purchasing my EMP weapon earlier than I thought.
  • 1st they learn to toss a ball, next thing you know they are tossing nukes. This can not end well.
  • throws like a girl robot

  • Robot Throws First Pitch At Phillies Game

    Sure, but can it love?

  • Balls!

  • the only one who only thought of the "modified howitzer" line in the one futurama episode?
  • The local cricket club has a machine for pitching cricket balls. You drop a ball in a hole at the back and it flies out a hole on the other side. I assume it gets squished between two rotating wheels. Don't they use these in base ball?

    • The local cricket club has a machine for pitching cricket balls. You drop a ball in a hole at the back and it flies out a hole on the other side. I assume it gets squished between two rotating wheels. Don't they use these in base ball?

      We do, but as mentioned in the summary this was supposedly more like an arm throwing a ball that a gun-type device firing a ball.

      Same result, but 2 different ways going about it.

      The gun-type device (that we use for batting practice) is probably more efficient and easier to fix / maintain.

      This is closer to what a thrown ball behaves and I guess serves as a decent little experiment in trying to replicate human actions in similar ways. The wind-up, the pitch, trying to hit the strike zone, etc. In the end it

  • I have been playing to much portal 2 as when I first read the summery I read "Applied Science" as "Aperture Science"
    but the idea of using a robot was interesting...how soon till we have a robot baseball league?

  • Now, if the title was "Robot Throws First PUNCH At Phillies Game", we'd have a real story on our hands.
  • Cool

The party adjourned to a hot tub, yes. Fully clothed, I might add. -- IBM employee, testifying in California State Supreme Court