There are lots of pitching machines on the market for baseball fans, but researchers at Japan's Meiji University have teamed up with Sapporo-based MR Corp to create a batting-tee robot that presents balls on a cushion of air. They say it's the first of its kind in the world.
The Jet Hitter lets batters practice alone by floating balls on a cushion of air instead of a tee. The machine can be loaded with up to 70 balls, and it automatically holds them in midair for the batter.
The inventors say the Jet Hitter makes it easy to focus on the proper place on the bat to strike the ball, and to work on hitting dynamics like angle and spin. They add that promising young pros have praised it as a realistic practice method.
The researchers are, ahem, pitching the robot to Japanese pro baseball teams, and hope to sell it online to individuals for about $7,000 apiece. That's quite ridiculous considering that plastic batting tees can be had for under $20. And what happens if an errant swing connects with the Jet Hitter? Yikes.