Robots can’t catch the coronavirus, so a baseball team in Japan has used a bunch of them to bring some life to its empty stadiums during mid-game entertainment slots for fans watching at home.
Seeing as the team is the SoftBank Hawks from Fukuoka, it’s no surprise that the robot dance troupe comprises SoftBank’s Pepper robots, and Spot quadrupeds (complete with baseball caps) from Boston Dynamics, the robot-focused company acquired by SoftBank in 2017.
Seeing the machines strut their stuff in a carefully coordinated routine is really quite something, we’re sure you’ll agree. More dance performances are planned for upcoming games at the stadium, though whether these robotic routines become part of the new normal at Japanese baseball games remains to be seen.
After years in development, Boston Dynamics’ Spot robot recently went on general sale for $74,500. On its website, the Massachusetts-based company says Spot is advanced enough to help out in a range of roles across multiple industries.
The dog-like robot can move at a gentle 3 mph and function for up to 90 minutes on a single charge. It features a programmable API for improved versatility, a 360-degree camera for obstacle avoidance and location mapping, and two ports for payloads to help it perform particular tasks. Seven payloads are currently available, costing between $1,275 and $34,570.
The remarkable robot is able to function autonomously or be operated remotely, and can reach locations that may be off-limits to humans (think radiation, smoke, challenging terrain).
Pepper, on the other hand, is less versatile than Spot, but is nevertheless smart enough for use in customer-facing roles to provide information for customers, while at the same time offering some entertainment value. In years gone by, we’ve seen Pepper performing simple tasks at department stores, airports, and hospitals, while last year SoftBank opened a cafe in Tokyo staffed almost entirely by Pepper robots. The team behind it is continuing to develop Pepper’s hardware and software in order to improve its versatility and overall capabilities. Including the quality of its dance moves.
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