MLB's First Telerobotic Pitch Thrown By Boy 1,800 Miles From Stadium

On June 12, Nick LeGrande, a 13-year-old from Kansas City, Mo., threw the first pitch at a New York Yankees-Oakland Athletics game. What sets Nick apart from anyone else who has thrown a first pitch: he was actually 1,800 miles away, in his Missouri hometown, when he participated in the game.

Nick is a huge baseball fan who plays on a Little League team. His world changed when he was diagnosed last year with aplastic anemia, a life-threatening blood disease that has prevented him from playing the sport he loves.

When the Oakland A’s learned about Nick, an offer for Nick to throw out a first pitch was a no-brainer. But given his condition, Nick couldn’t travel to Oakland from Kansas City. And so began the quest to create the first telerobotic pitch in Major League Baseball history.

Google partnered with Venables Bell & Partners and Deeplocal, the company that created a telerobotic pitching machine controlled using Google Fiber’s high-speed bandwidth.

The robot took a month to build and included a livestreaming video camera that both showed Nick the stadium in Oakland and recorded his pitch from Google Fiber Space in Kansas City.

“We used a vision system and Nick's motion to activate the throw, which was transferred via the Web,” said a Deeplocal spokesperson.

Even better was that Nick didn’t just throw a baseball inside the Google Fiber building. A room was transformed into a mini baseball stadium, with real grass, dirt and bleachers, and baseball fans that included Nick’s family, friends and doctors.

Check out an intro video here.

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