Robot to throw out first pitch at Phillies game

Apr 20, 2011

(AP) -- PhillieBot for Cy Young? It's unlikely.

But the one-armed, three-wheeled robot, designed by engineers at the University of Pennsylvania, will throw out the ceremonial first before Wednesday's game between the Philadelphia Phillies and Milwaukee Brewers as part of Science Day festivities at Citizens Bank Park, said Evan Lerner, a spokesman for Penn's engineering school.

The pitching robot has been in the makings for a month and a half as Penn engineers Jordan Brindza and Jamie Gewirtz assembled parts and wrote software in their spare time, Lerner said.

They started with a Segway, gave it a and added a third wheel. They also gave it a pneumatic cylinder, which delivers a burst of compressed carbon dioxide to power the pitch. The robot's computer brain can be tweaked to change pitch velocity and trajectory.

On Monday, Brindza and Gewirtz took PhillieBot out to the mound for its final test, The Philadelphia Inquirer reported. After the press of a button, the robot's reared back and then moved toward home plate; at the top of its delivery, it flicked its mechanical "wrist" and shot the ball forward.

The ball appeared to be traveling no more than 30 or 40 miles an hour, the Inquirer reported. But that was by design, since the Phillies didn't want the pitch approaching Major League speeds.

The team's head groundskeeper, Mike Boekholder, told the newspaper that he has been assured the machine won't tear up the playing surface.

Nevertheless, he doesn't see a future for PhillieBot in the team's star-studded rotation, which features reigning Cy Young award-winner Roy Halladay, Cliff Lee, Roy Oswalt and Cole Hamels.

"I know some teams are a little pitching-challenged," Boekholder said. "But we certainly don't have that problem."


Explore further: Co-robots team up with humans

not rated yet
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

How pitching changes little leaguers' shoulders

Oct 04, 2007

At this year's Little League World Series, new rules for the first time forced players to limit the number of times pitchers could throw the ball, and coaches had to strategize how pitchers were used more carefully.

Applying Newton's Laws of Motion to Baseball Pitching

Apr 07, 2009

The April 2009 edition of Mechanical Engineering magazine profiles Mike Marshall, the former major league baseball hurler who teaches a pitching methodology based on Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion.

The psychology behind athletic success

Oct 29, 2010

The pressure on World Series hitters is immense. It might not have looked that way in game one as hitters battered each team's ace pitcher, especially the previously untouchable Texas Rangers pitcher Cliff ...

Recommended for you

Firmer footing for robots with smart walking sticks

Nov 25, 2014

Anyone who has ever watched a humanoid robot move around in the real world—an "unstructured environment," in research parlance—knows how hard it is for a machine to plan complex movements, balance on ...

Knightscope K5 on security patrol roams campus

Nov 24, 2014

A Mountain View, California-based company called Knightscope designs and builds 5-feet, 300-pound security guards called K5, but anyone scanning last week's headlines has already heard about them, with the ...

Robots take over inspection of ballast tanks on ships

Nov 24, 2014

A new robot for inspecting ballast water tanks on board ships is being developed by a Dutch-German partnership including the University of Twente. The robot is able to move independently along rails built ...

User comments : 2

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Norezar
not rated yet Apr 20, 2011
Why should it not approach ML speeds?
ubavontuba
1 / 5 (1) Apr 20, 2011
What, like automated pitching machines hadn't been invented before this?

http://en.wikiped..._machine

I don't see the significance.

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.