Robot Throws First Pitch At Phillies Game

Robots are taking our jobs! Well, maybe it's not quite that dramatic...yet. Earlier this week, a robot named the PhillieBot, designed by the University of Pennsylvania, gave the first pitch at the Washington Nationals opener to the Phillies Phanatic mascot.

This isn't a pitching machine, mind you--a pitching machine is designed more like a gun that fires baseballs through a nozzle. Instead, the PhillieBot can actually "pitch" balls with a similar trajectory as a living human pitcher, complete with an armature and a hand that were designed for throwing. According to the International Business Times, the PhillieBot can even put "wrist" action into the ball.

That's right, it can throw a curveball.

The robot was designed by the University of Pennsylvania's School of Engineering and Applied Science as part of an outreach program and the Phillies' "Science Day At The Ballpark". It's a product of the General Robotics, Automation, Sensing & Perception (GRASP) Laboratory, specifically part of a study of how people grasp things (like baseballs).

So how fast can this puppy throw? The University of Pennsylvania claims the robot can throw at "high speeds", but they had designed it primarily to throw in the 40mph range so it doesn't hurt people. It's no Roger Clemens in the video above (the baseball actually bounces once before the Phanatic catches it), but apparently that's because the Phanatic broke his wrist catching a pitch last year, so the engineers were told to turn down the pitching arm's power for the opening pitch. Way to ruin the PhillieBot's pitching debut, Phanatic.

Clearly, it's only a matter of time before more robots take our jobs. It looks like Judgment Day just got here.

[International Business Times via Slashdot / Video: University of Pennsylvania (YouTube)]

Follow James Mulroy on Twitter to get the latest in microbe, dinosaur, and death ray news.

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