Robot Umpires

Robots build things, clean things, and move things. Something a little different is the new robot umpire trying its robotic (and metaphorical) hands at umpiring for professional baseball.

Having robots make judgements makes sense. They’re fair, consistent, and unbiased… right?

In fact, experience has shown that robots, or AI programs taking on the role of robot deciders, are quite biased. Machine learning leads to increasing bias. It starts out almost undetectable in the minds of the programmers, and by the time the robots have done a few rounds, it’s completely obvious to all observers.

But the robot umpires, also known as TrackMan, aren’t paying attention to moral issues or recognizing faces. They’re analyzing spin rate, exit velocity and launch angle. They’re also calculating strike zones with perfect mathematical certainty.

Automation brings precision

Automation in industrial settings leads to precision. Pieces are cut the same every time, items are assembled in the same order every time, and the results are identical every time. This is a plus.

It’s even a reason for choosing automation. Not only does precision mean better results when you’re putting together a car or printing a package, but it also means less waste and more efficiency.

But does it take away some of the gamesmanship of a game?

Robo-umpires change the experience

Even though the robot umpire is calibrated to identify the strike zone precisely, ball players who’ve experienced it say it’s different from working with human umpires. The human umpire’s crouch causes a visual foreshortening of the strike zone. Umpires are trained to call pitches at the edges of the strike zone balls rather than strikes.

So the players have to begin considering what their strike zones would be if an unemotional robot were doing the figuring.

Robots will change all our experiences as they become increasingly central to our lives. Motion control continues to be one of the most central parts of the robotic experience. When you need support for your Rexroth electric industrial motion control, we should be your furst choice. We specialize in this technology, whether the legacy models of the 20th century or the most cutting edge components of today.

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