"We (IEEE) 've been writing about robots from the Ishikawa Watanabe Laboratory at the University of Tokyo for years. They’ve always had very cool demos, like robots throwing balls, robots tracking balls, robots catching balls, robots hitting balls, and robots running really really fast.
I’d just sort of figured that these demos were simply fun and interesting ways of highlighting the capabilities of high-speed actuators and vision systems.
Evidently, I don’t know anything, because it’s now totally obvious that they’re working on a humanoid robot that plays baseball.
Here’s what the researchers say:
We have been developing robotic systems that individually achieve fundamental actions of baseball, such as throwing, tracking of the ball, batting, running, and catching. We achieved these tasks by controlling high-speed robots based on real-time visual feedback from high-speed cameras. Before integrating these abilities into one robot, we here summarize the technical elements of each task.
“Before integrating these abilities into one robot.” I can’t even put into words how awesome that’s going to be, and putting awesome things into words is (supposedly) my full-time job."
On a related note, just a few days ago the IEEE published this article taking a look at some of the work that goes into creating a robotic hand. http://spectrum.ieee.org/robotics/humanoids/inexpensive-durable-plastic-hands-let-robots-get-a-grip