Korean baseball team fills stands with 'Fanbots'
Fanbots display human faces in their designated cheering section at Daejeon Stadium in this still image from YouTube. (YouTube / Hanwha Eagles)
Jordan Chittley, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, July 29, 2014 7:42AM EDT
Step aside, Hitchbot. You may be able to stick out your thumb and carry on a basic conversation, but we've found something that can boost morale: Fanbot.
The Hanwha Eagles, a losing South Korean major league baseball team, recently tried to change their luck by introducing the world's first robots designed to cheer from the stands.
Based on a video the team posted to YouTube, the fanbots have LED screens that can display text messages sent by human fans who can no longer be bothered to cheer on the Hanwha Eagles in person.
Each Fanbot wears a team jersey and instead of a face, they have a screen that displays a picture of the person watching the game. They take up three rows of seating at Daejeon Stadium, and are programmed to lead cheers and can even start a slow wave.
"I like the fact that I can send messages even when I am not in the ballpark or not watching the game on TV," Kim Seung-bi, a 26-year-old fan, told Korea Bizwire. "I am proud of being an Eagles fan as the club has pioneered the world's first all-digital cheerleading troops."
But while the baseball club may want people to applaud their new technology, they may have another reason for creating the Fanbots. The team has finished last in their league four out of the last five years, so the seats taken up by the fanbots might be otherwise empty.
So far this season they are last with a 31-55 record.