Robot throws out first pitch at Phillies game, doesn’t quite get across home plate


Take that, Skynet! Kinda tough to have your robots crushing human skulls under their metal feet when they can’t even throw a simple baseball across home plate.

Yesterday was Science Day at the Ballpark for the Phillies/Brewers game at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, Penn. To celebrate, a custom robot built for the Philadelphia Science Festival — the aptly named PhillieBot — was invited to throw out the first pitch at the April 20 ball game. It was actually constructed for that specific purpose, a collaboration between festival organizers and the city’s Major League Baseball team. So shortly before the game started, the remote-controlled PhillieBot rolled out onto the field to throw out the first pitch to the team mascot, the Phillie Phanatic. Then this happened…

Anyone who was worried by Watson’s Jeopardy IBM Challenge win can relax a little. There won’t be any bowing before our computer overlords until they can at least throw a baseball across home plate.

Actually, ESPN reports that the feeble pitch was by design, since no one wanted to have a pneumatic piston-powered throwing machine chuck a ball at Major League Speeds. PhillieBot was constructed by members of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) lab at University of Pennsylvania. It stands just shy of six feet tall, weighs 230 pounds and is built on the frame of a Segway personal transport. The robot was built as a fun way to showcase the physics of baseball in connection with the city’s ongoing science festival.