Robot umpires are coming to Major League Baseball.
Well, sort of.
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred addressed the idea of robot umpires Wednesday and confirmed a camera-based system will be used during spring training to help call balls and strikes.
"Robots may be an overstatement," Manfred told Maria Bartiromo of Fox Business. "The system actually is a camera-based system. It does call balls and strikes. ... We're going to be using it during spring training and in some of our minor leagues this year."
A computerized strike zone has been tested in the independent Atlantic League and the Arizona Fall League. It received mixed reviews from players.
"The way it works is the camera calls the ball or strike, communicates to an earpiece that the umpire has in his ear, and from the fan's perspective, it looks exactly like it looks today," Manfred explained.
"We believe, over the long haul, it's going to be more accurate. It'll reduce controversy in the game and be good for the game."
Manfred's comments come a month after MLB and the MLB Umpires Association reached a tentative five-year labor agreement, where umps agreed to cooperate with the development and testing of an automated strike-zone system.
"We think it's more accurate than a human being standing there," Manfred said. "The current strike zone is designed as three-dimensional, and a camera is better at calling a three-dimensional strike zone than the human eye."
If an automated strike zone were to be used during MLB's regular season, umpires would still be needed behind the plate to signal the call and make decisions on check swings and balls that hit the ground before possibly bouncing back through the zone.