Robots are standing in as cheerleaders for teams playing to empty stadiums

With stadiums empty of human spectators, the robots are stepping up to keep players going.

Boston Dynamics recently began selling its robot dog Spot to businesses as a way to replace humans for dangerous jobs like surveying coal mines, but it may have found an even better use for the $74,000 robot: cheering on players at a baseball game.

SoftBank, which owns Boston Dynamics, shared a video today of Spot and its humanoid robot Pepper cheering on players at a game in Japan. SoftBank's own team, the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, were facing off against the Rakuten Eagles.

Spot is making games less boring — The coronavirus pandemic has ended stadium gatherings, but professional leagues have decided to continue their seasons anyway without a live audience. Some teams have addressed the quiet brought on by an empty stadium by bringing fans to the game with Zoom rooms that display on stadium screens, while others have given fans "remote cheering" apps they can use to remotely send cheers or jeers to stadium speakers.

SoftBank says the robots will perform at games throughout July, and it's apparently even working on improving their dance routines. The company quoted Pepper as saying "I am practicing and practicing every day." Thanks, Pepper, you're truly the hero we need in these trying times.

The NBA plans to resume its season at Walt Disney World in Orlando, where players will essentially be secluded in a bubble and have to remain on the premises until their team is eliminated.