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Robot shortstop in development at Arizona State

Stan Horaczek

Robots have taken yet another step toward their goal of dominating humans in just about every sport, this time setting their digital sites on America's favorite pastime, baseball. Thomas G. Sugar, a robotics engineer from Arizona State University, has been developing robots designed to play the field for more than six years, and his latest model is pretty impressive. The yet-unnamed (might we suggest eRod?) bot uses a motion-sensing camera to determine when a ball is put into play, and an on-board computer system that calculates trajectory. Using that information, the cyber-fielder hurries to gather the ball with a foam pad -- a glove is a feature to be added in the future. Its four-wheel drive transmission allows it to reach speeds of about 30 feet per second, which is almost as impressive as its estimated .750 fielding percentage. Sadly, it can't swing a bat, but luckily there are other robots for that.

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