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Wednesday, August 12, 2020

‘Creative yet creepy’: Dancing robots cheer Japanese baseball team in the absence of fans

Boston Dynamics "Spot" and Softbank Robotics "Pepper" robots collaboratively danced to cheer for the Japanese baseball team at a recent game.

By: Reuters | Tokyo | Published: July 9, 2020 8:05:11 pm
Humanoid robots Pepper and dog-like robots SPOT in baseball uniforms cheer the team in an empty stadium at a baseball game as Nippon Professional Baseball league behind closed doors due to pandemic.  (Source: Kyodo/Reuters)

With their stadium devoid of fans due to coronavirus restrictions, Japanese baseball team Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks have come up with an imaginative replacement: dancing robots.

Before their most recent Nippon Professional Baseball (NPB) game against Rakuten Eagles on Tuesday, over 20 robots danced to the team’s fight song on a podium in the otherwise empty stand.

Two different robots, including SoftBank’s humaniod robot ‘Pepper’ and others on four legs like a dog, stamped and shimmied in a choreographed dance that is usually performed by the Hawks’ fans before games in the 40,000 capacity Fukuoka Dome.

Some of the robots wore Hawks caps and waved flags supporting the team.

Watch the video here:

Fans on social media had mixed reactions. “I think this is like a dystopia,” wrote one Twitter user. Another called the performance “insanely beautiful.”

Boosted by the supportive robots, the Hawks won 4-3 as they look to defend their 2019 NPB title. The NPB season began three months late on June 19 due to the coronavirus pandemic and currently no supporters are allowed to attend games.

However, from Friday, up to 5,000 fans will be allowed to attend professional baseball and soccer games in Japan due to an easing of restrictions.

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