Baseball-playing robot has an artificial brain, can learn to hit curveballs

Well, this is it, guys. Here’s where humans really do start become obsolete. We’re now building robots that can not only play sports, but can learn how to play better using an artificial brain that works like a human's.

Researchers from the University of Electro-Communications in Tokyo and the Okinawa Institute of Science and Technology built a robot that can hit baseballs. The artificial brain is built around a Nvida GPU and it contains around 100,000 neurons, each programmed to focus solely on playing baseball.

The humanoid holds a bat (well, it's more like a tennis racket) and knows to take swings when a ball is tossed in its direction. Much like a human who is learning to play, it will probably swing and miss a lot at first, but after a few attempts, the robot learns to time its swing in order to hit a ball out of the park (or robotics lab, anyway).

An accelerometer on the batting cage records information about the pitch (its velocity, for example) and relays it to the robot, so the robot can improve its batting average over time. With each different pitch technique. And it can adjust and learn how to hit different kinds of pitches.

That's right—this robot can learn how to hit the breaking ball. For now, this robot appears to be just a designated hitter since it only hits balls and can't field them, so we'll never be able to see if it can handle pop flies. No word if it's batted against the PhillieBot.

[Neural Networks via Wired and SlashGear]

Photo: TechHive Robot wishes it could have faced Vida Blue. But it couldn't. It's a toy robot, and it can't swing a bat.

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