On the Radar: Robot pitcher, Obama at Facebook, air travel rules, more storms
A robot will precede Phillies ace Cliff Lee to the mound Wednesday in Philadelphia.
April 20th, 2011
06:39 AM ET

On the Radar: Robot pitcher, Obama at Facebook, air travel rules, more storms

It may not be able to break into what many consider the best pitching rotation in baseball, but PhillieBot will certainly be a major-league phenom when it throws out the first pitch at Wednesday afternoon's Philadelphia Phillies game.

PhillieBot, a combination Segway, robotic arm and jai-alai-like scoop is the brainchild of the director of Philadelphia's city science festival and the handiwork of a group of University of Pennsylvania engineers, according to a report on philly.com.

Science festival director Gerri Trooskin came up with the idea for the robot to headline Science Day at the ballpark. She pitched her idea to Penn's General Robotics, Automation, Sensing and Perception (GRASP) Laboratory, where engineers Jordan Brindza, Jamie Gewirtz and Christian Moore designed, built and programmed the robot.

PhillieBot will be firing to home plate at 30 to 40 mph on Wednesday, well below the what the guys who'll take the mound later can throw. But philly.com reports  "the robot's computer brain can be infinitely tweaked to change pitch velocity and trajectory."

No word on whether a water tank for a spitter could be an accessory.

Obama at Facebook: President Barack Obama visits Facebook headquarters in Palo Alto, California, on Wednesday, for the second of three town hall-style meetings on the economy.

During his first event Tuesday in Virginia, Obama emphasized what he called a balanced approach that both cut spending and increased revenue by ending tax cuts for the wealthy; maintained or increased spending in education, research and infrastructure development; and continued reforms launched in last year's health care bill of the Medicare and Medicaid government-run health systems for senior citizens and the poor and disabled.

Obama will also include four political fundraisers during his stop in the Bay Area, the San Franciso Chronicle reports.

New rules for airlines: The Department of Transportation issues new rules Wednesday to address a litany of airline passenger gripes, including requiring full disclosure of additional fees; limiting tarmac delays; reimbursing bag fees if luggage is lost; and increasing compensation for bumping.

Severe weather threat: The threat of severe thunderstorms and tornadoes continued Wednesday to hang over portions of the Midwest and South, after another round of violent weather pummeled parts of both regions the day before, according to the National Weather Service.

The weather service early Wednesday placed portions of eastern Kentucky, southeast Ohio, southwest Virginia and West Virginia under a tornado watch until 9:00 a.m. Wednesday.

Parts of Arkansas, Mississippi and Tennessee remain under a tornado watch until 10:00 a.m., according to the National Weather Service.

So far there have been no reports of injuries or deaths from the latest round of storms, according to emergency management officials and law enforcement.

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Filed under: Air travel • Barack Obama • Baseball • Politics • Science • Segway • Sports • Technology • Travel • Weather
September 28th, 2010
10:08 AM ET

Soldiers to Segway owner: Your product saved our lives

The British owner of Segway Inc. who drove the scooter off a cliff and died has became a huge headline grabber because of it - but his legacy may be more about the lives his company's products helped saved if messages left on his company's site are any indication.

Though little is known about James Heselden's personal life, there are details emerging about his trajectory from rags to riches. Before he amassed a fortune worth about $262 million, the 62-year-old was a coal miner, the Wall Street Journal reported. He dropped out of school to take the dirty job at 15, the paper said but had to quit after a country-wide mining strike in 1984.

Heselden used his unemployment compensation to found Hesco Bastion Ltd of Leeds, England, which purchased the Segway in 2009. He became famous in England for his philanthropy, giving more than $35 million to Leeds Community Foundation, according to the WSJ.

It appears that Heselden's legacy will be that the products, including the Hesco Bastion barrier, his company produced are credited with protecting soldiers and others at wartime. Hesco posted this short message on its site about Heselden's death, which is followed by posters who remarked how grateful they were for Hesco's protective products.

"Your Hesco bastion saved my son's life on several occasions in Iraq, along with many other soldiers and Marines," posted Douglas Price.


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Filed under: Segway • United Kingdom