The Hanwha Eagles are a baseball team in the KBO League, the highest-level baseball league run by the Korean Baseball Organization. The team has seen success in the past — they have a Korean Series title to their credit (in 1999) — but in recent years, the Eagles have been a laughing stock. The team won only about a third of its games in 2009 and 2010 and earned the nicknamed “Hanwha Chickens” from rival fans. And while the team managed a 6th (out of 8th) place finish in 2011, it fell back to the cellar for the 2012 through 2014 seasons.
When teams are that bad it means that fans — even the die-hard ones — stop coming to the games. Sure, they may watch on TV or follow along online, but Eagles were struggling to fill the seats. So the Eagles found themselves some new fans, pictured below.
Yes, those are robots.
The robot fans were designed to fill seats in a somewhat-empty stadium, yes, but they’re also there to help fans experience the game from their smart phones. TIME explains:
Hanwha’s robot fans will work as stand-ins for human fans who can’t attend a game. Remote fans will be able to control some of the robots’ movements — presumably certain hand gestures in the direction of umpires — and can even upload an image of their face to be shown on the machine’s screen. The robots will also let fans watch the game from afar, giving more fans the opportunity to join in the action and cheer on their team.
And, per the BBC, the robots can even “cheer, chant and perform a Mexican wave.” Further, they’re holding LED signs, which can be used to send individual messages or a larger, collective one to the other (human) fans in the crowd.
On the down side, a human spectator controlling a robo-fan can’t buy a hot dog or cotton candy (or whatever they sell at KBO League games). But on the plus side, a remote fan can take a beer from the fridge, and save on the exorbitant fee. And if the players on the field play poorly, you can just disconnect from your robot.
From the Archives: RoboRoach: A robot roach which leads other (real) roaches to their doom.
Take the Quiz: Pick the movie robot that said the quote.
Related: Your very own robot. It’s neither roach nor a baseball fan.