The Robots of Summer

For all you baseball fans out there, an interesting tidbit from the American Society for Engineering Education’s First Bell news digest of July 27, 2009:

Robots Developed To Pitch, Hit With Accuracy.

The AP (7/24) reported, “A pair of baseball-playing robots that can pitch and hit with incredible results have been developed in Japan.” The three-fingered “pitching robot…can throw 90 percent of its pitches in the strike zone,” although the ball it uses is polystyrene and the pitch travels at 25 miles per hour. University of Tokyo professor Masatoshi Ishikawa “is hoping to increase the speed to 93 mph and make it able to throw off-speed pitches like curves and sliders.” The batting robot, meanwhile, “has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls,” and “hits balls in the strike zone almost 100 percent of the time” and “doesn’t swing at pitches outside the strike zone.”

        Popular Science (7/24, Smith) reported that the pitching robot “can open and close its fingers 10 times a second,” which “allows for precise pitching. … The batter is an arm developed by MIT that has a 1000-frame-per-second camera eye attached to detect incoming pitches.”

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