Major League Robot Baseball

{Inspired by this story in Wired magazine: Japanese scientists build baseball-playing robot with 100,000-neuron ‘brain’}

Sadahuru-batter waddles to the plate while Sadahuru-runner1 settles itself in the runner box. Sadahuru-batter launches its drone-eye. Once in place, it focuses on the 1,000 meter space between Sadahuru and Tomokazu-pitcher. Sadahuru-batter receives the datastream from the drone-eye and takes a practice swing to test the air friction and its processing time. After making the adjustments, it settles in its stance.

Tomokazu-pitcher, meanwhile has been communicating with the rest of its team, organising them based on its probability analysis of Sadahuru’s strategy. Sadahuru-batter has a 57.535% likelihood of hitting the ball in the space between firstbase and secondbase. Given its analysis of Sadahuru-batter’s practice swing, Tomokazu-pitcher calculates that the probability of this strategy is now at 57.612%.

As a result, Tomokazu-firstbase moves 97 cm to its left to cover a likely vector Sadahuru-batter will aim for. Tomokazu-rightout also shifts, 15.8 cm to its right to cover the exposed space between Tomokazu-firstbase and the bag. Once the two fielders are in position, Tomokazu-pitcher drops the next ball into its pitching arm. The Umpire drones and sensors flash green, signaling that they are ready. Sadahuru-batter’s drone-eye makes a last-milisecond calibration and passes the data to Sadahuru-batter.

The pitch covers the distance between the mound and home plate in 7.2 seconds. Sadahuru-batter makes contact with the ball 0.645 mm behind the tip of home plate. At contact, Sadahuru-runner1 takes off toward firstbase. As expected, the ball travels along a long, parabolic arc halfway between firstbase and secondbase. Despite Tomokazu-firstbase’s extended glove arm, the ball sails into the outfield. Tomokazu-right0ut accelerates toward a position where the ball is expected to descend in its arc to a point where Tomokazu-righout can catch it.

Unfortunately, the latency in the Tomokazu communication network is not optimal and, by the time that Tomokazu-rightout reaches the designated coordinates, the ball has already passed the level that the glove arm is extended at. The ball hits the playing surface and bounces. Tomokazu-rightout’s glove arm had already shifted once the new ball coordinates had come in from the Tomokazu drone-eye.

One bounce and the ball is in the glove. Tomokazu-rightout’s throwing arm shoots out and grabs the ball from the glove. The ball reaches a velocity of 498.354 km/s as it covers the distance to Tomokazu-firstbase. With its foot planted on firstbase, Tomokazu-firstbase has fully extended itself. When the ball makes contact with the glove and it closes to establish full contact, Umpire signals ‘Safe’. Sadahuru-runner1 had made contact with firstbase 0.42 seconds earlier.

Sadahuru-runner2 settles into the runner’s box. Sadahuru-batter reviews the data of the last play and readjusts its strategy. Tomokazu-pitcher communicates new coordinates to the rest of the team, taking into account the latency that has been discovered in their communications system. Once the team is positioned, Tomokazu-pitcher selects the next pitch. Sadahuru-batter crouches in the batter’s box processing the data from the drone-eye.

In the stands, the crowd are treated to holographic replay of Sadahuru-batter’s last at-bat. The odds on the next action scroll across the seat screens. There is a buzz of voices as bets are placed. Suddenly Umpire’s green light appears. The betting pauses and all eyes focus on the fan of views on the main action screen as Tomokazu-pitcher fires another ball at the target presented by Tomokazu-catcher’s glove arm.


For those who prefer football/soccer, there is RoboCup.

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