Japanese Professor Creates Baseball-Playing Robots - CBS News 8 - San Diego, CA News Station - KFMB Channel 8

Japanese Professor Creates Baseball-Playing Robots

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TOKYO (AP) - Look out Ichiro Suzuki and Daisuke Matsuzaka. A pair of baseball-playing robots that can pitch and hit with incredible results have been developed in Japan.

The pitching robot, with its three-fingered hand, can throw 90 percent of its pitches in the strike zone, won't need any relief from the bullpen and never asks for a pay raise.

The batting robot, which has a sensor to determine if pitches are strikes or balls, hits balls in the strike zone almost 100 percent of the time, doesn't swing at pitches outside the strike zone, and is guaranteed to pass all drug tests.

The two robots were created by University of Tokyo professor Masatoshi Ishikawa.

"The demand level of the robotics technology of each robot is very high," Ishikawa said. "What was difficult was to create a mechanism to satisfy such a high level of demand."

The pitching robot throws a plastic foam ball at 25 miles per hour, but Ishikawa is hoping to increase the speed to 93 mph and make it able to throw off-speed pitches like curves and sliders.

Ishikawa is also working on getting the batting robot to be able to hit to all parts of the field.

The robots don't resemble humans but instead the type of robots on a car assembly line.

Japan boasts one of the leading robotics industries in the world, and the government is pushing to develop the industry as a road to growth. Automaker Honda has developed the child-sized Asimo, which can walk and talk.

Copyright 2009 The Associated Press.

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