Umpires are a vital component of sports. However, human umpires make human errors. Therefore, the MLB introduced the “robot umpire”.
Starting this season, the robot umpires will be used to improve accuracy and time to respond to calls. Robot umpires were first used at Triple-A games after its first debut at a Las Vegas Aviators last month.
It was confirmed that there were 11 Pacific Coast League Triple-A teams that would use robot umpires.
On May 31, robot umpires took on the first minor league match at Las Vegas Aviators game. Fans booed the debuting umpires, saying they made bad calls
“Yelling at the umpire, just having a good time. You know, it makes the game feel authentic, makes it feel real,” said Ronaldo Echeverria, an Aviators fan.
Per Fox News Digital’s Jim Gemma, the Aviators’ media relation director said that there was a wrong perspective about robot umpires in the game.
“I think people have the misconception that it’s going to be a robot behind the plate. ‘Lost in Space’ is one of my favorite shows. It’s not the robot from ‘Lost in Space’ back there,” he said.
He explained that robot umpires help the human one make an instant call.
“The umpire is going to have AirPods in, and the ball comes over… That basically tells them instantly if it’s a ball or strike,” he said.
The robot umpire is a network of cameras on the pitch. The robot signals and tells the human umpire whether a call is a ball or strike.
The cameras are located at the top of the bleachers to detect the strike zone based on players’ heights. Then, the pitch will be determined by an automated system.
The actual umpire will be told by a robotic voice through an earpiece for a call.
The MLB’s Automated Ball/Strike System (ABS) was first introduced in July 2019 in the Atlantic League of Professional Baseball. It has now reached the top of the minor leagues, and the majors could be next.
The system is known for making controversial calls. One of the most well known was when the Houston Astros and the Washington Nationals played Game 6 of the 2019 World Series.
Out of nowhere, Nationals runner Trea Turner was ruled out due to interference.
Rayvon Fouché, a Purdue University professor of American Studies, said integrating robots into sport was a negative decision.
“At the core, sport is a human endeavor, and we like to cheer for our fans. We like to vilify the umpires,” he said.
“It’s a theater of sport and part of that would be lost if we moved to robotic officiating.
He suggested that there was not enough evidence that the application of the technology would improve decision making accuracy.
“It’s good in some ways, but not in baseball. Baseball’s an old-fashioned game,” David Baird, an Aviators fan, said.
“In real high stakes situations like the World Series, we need the most accurate call possible you know,” Damian Young, another Aviators fan, added.