DETROIT (WWJ) – A robot developed by Detroit-area high school students will toss out the ceremonial first pitch at Wednesday night’s Detroit Tigers game against the Toronto Blue Jays.
Colm Boren, an engineer and mentor for the FIRST Robotics organization, said a team of about 30 teenagers spent the summer designing the robot — Cy-ber Young — from the ground up.
“It’s a robot designed to throw out the pitch. It’s about the size of a shopping cart and uses a big scuba tank as the main source of power. So, we use that as basically a big pea shooter to blow the ball through a piece of PVC pipe. There’s a camera that’s used and the robot actually travels out to the mound on its own. The kids are steering it with joystick controllers that you’d use with a video game and they have a laptop,” said Boren.
It will be the first time in Major League Baseball that a robot built by kids gets the game opening honor. Behind the plate will be the Tigers’ beloved mascot PAWS, who will try to catch the pitch.
“The robot will drive onto the field just behind home plate and we’ll drive over the first base line out to the front mound, turn and aim toward the plate and PAWS will be standing behind the plate,” said Boren.
While Cy-ber Young might look a little intimidating, Boren said the pitch is very controlled so PAWS should have nothing to worry about. He said the students are able to manipulate settings such as velocity and trajectory.
“We haven’t actually measured the farthest distance yet but I’d say at least a few hundred feet. We actually were considering asking the Detroit Tigers if we could throw the first pitch from the outfield, which we’re confident we could do, but they, for the sake of PAWS’ safety, they didn’t want us to try that,” said Boren.
“We’ve clocked it at upwards of 85 miles per hour. We could probably go a bit higher so it’s definitely more than the average person can throw, but not as much as a professional baseball player,” he continued.
The game is set to start at 7:05 p.m., with the ceremonial pitch thrown around 6:35 p.m. The robot will then be on display throughout the game so fans can get an up close and personal look at it.