Does Baseball's Future Lie In These Cold, Robotic Hands?

A robot pitcher faces off against a robot batter

Right now the next baseball great may be warming up, not on a Little League diamond, but in a lab. Researchers at the University of Tokyo have pitted a robotic pitcher against a robotic batter to show that the robots can respond to each other at high speeds.

The pitcher is a three-fingered robot arm that was developed by the University's Graduate School of Information Science and Technology: it can open and close its fingers 10 times a second. This allows for precise pitching that lands in the strike zone 90 percent of the time. The batter is an arm developed by MIT that has a 1000-frame-per-second camera eye attached to detect incoming pitches.

While the video demonstration only shows the pitcher throwing a ball at 25 mph for a distance of only 11 meters, it may signal the beginning of the end. The debate over adding asterisks to statistics will be moot. We'll have to use a whole other symbol for robot-based stats.