Harry the robot will be retiring soon, but until then, here are some fun facts about him. One of the most important members of the USBC Specifications and Certification team is not a human being. He's a robot, and his name is "Harry."
Harry (named in honor of former testing facility employee Harry Lawrence) is an approximately seven-foot tall robotic bowling ball thrower who is an integral part of the equipment testing and research effort at the USBC Specifications and Certification test facility in Greendale, Wis.
Developed by USBC and in use since 1999, Harry is a unique, computer-controlled hybrid machine partly encased in safety glass that combines hydraulics, air pressure and electronics that power a mechanical arm that delivers bowling balls to help test balls, lanes, pins and oil patterns. Harry is similar to the United States Golf Association's robotic golfer "Iron Byron" whose mechanical arm swings golf clubs for research purposes in that sport.
Harry has two "hands," a device with two clamps that grabs bowling balls. A piston and cylinder assembly makes the machine's hand open and close to pick up and release a ball. Springs and gravity provide forward momentum to propel a ball down the lane.
Why doesn't USBC just use human bowlers? Because Harry can deliver bowling balls with much more precision, accuracy and consistency than humans. Harry can consistently duplicate shot after shot at ball speeds anywhere from 14-22 miles per hour and rev rates anywhere from 0-600 rpm. Pairing Harry and the Computer Aided Tracking System (C.A.T.S.), a computer and sensor system that precisely tracks bowling ball location and speed as it travels down a lane, gives USBC a key advantage in sophisticated tracking and measurement of ball motion data.
Because of this phenomenal accuracy that only a robot could provide, Harry is one of the main players in USBC's bowling ball motion study. The goal of that study, started in 2005, is to gather data about the complex dynamics and inner motion characteristics of today's high-tech bowling balls. USBC is testing to determine how balls with different properties and characteristics act together, then use this and other information obtained in working with bowling ball manufacturers and other industry leaders to set performance-based specifications for bowling balls used in USBC-certified competition.
Though Harry is a robot, his talents make him a major part of USBC's pledge to uphold the integrity and credibility of the sport of bowling.