Blood, Sweat and Oil: Robot to Throw Out First Pitch in MLB Contest

Are the Philadelphia Phillies so desperate for a fifth starter that they're willing to try anything?

Ed Millerby Ed Miller

On Wednesday afternoon, we might just be one step closer to the skynet takeover, as a one armed, three-wheeled robot, designed by engineers at the University of Pennsylvania will throw out the ceremonial first pitch at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia, before what is sure to be a sellout crowd.

The event will take place right before the Milwaukee Brewers square off with the Philadelphia Phillies as part of Science Day festivities at the park. The robot was in development for well over a month by Penn engineers Jordan Brindza and Jamie Gewirtz who assembled the robot and wrote its software during their free time.

The robot is made up of a Segway body, a robotic arm and third wheel. In order for it to pitch, they gave it a pneumatic cylinder that delivers compressed carbon dioxide to the arm.

The robot, which has been given the nickname “PhillieBot”, went to the mound on Monday for its final test and after the simple press of a button, the mechanical arm went forward toward home plate and flicked the ball over the plate. The ball was clocked at between 30 and 40 miles per hour, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. For obvious reasons, the Phillies did not want the ball to reach major league speeds, so they made sure it was toned down for the event.

Could the PhillieBot be the next arm in the rotation?

Well with the way Joe Blanton has pitched early on the season, we wouldn't be surprised if it is something the Phillies are thinking about. In three games this season, the man with such nicknames as “The Five of Chubbs” and “Sloppy Joe” is 0-1 with a 7.27 ERA and a 1.62 WHIP.

But we might be along way away from that happening.

The pitch is scheduled for 1 p.m. and the Phillies' head groundskeeper, Mike Boekholder has been assured that the machine will not cause any type of damage to the playing surface.

Photo Courtesy of: AP Images