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AP will use 'robot journalists' to expand its college sports coverage

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The news organization continues to grow its automated coverage wing

Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The Associated Press plans to expand its collegiate sports coverage using automation technology instead of human reporters. The news organization's team of robot journalists will compile text based on game statistics provided by the NCAA. The move will expand AP's sports coverage to include Division I baseball, Division I women’s basketball, Division II and III football, and Division II and III men’s basketball.

"This will mean thousands of more stories on the AP wire, which will remain unmatched in the industry," Barry Bedlan, AP's deputy director of sports products said in a statement. "Every college sports town will have some level of coverage."

"Every college sports town will have some level of coverage."

AP already uses this technology for some of its business reporting, which often involves wrangling large amounts of data into a clear and readable story. In January, AP used the robots to cover Apple's record-breaking quarterly earnings. The technology, which was developed by the language generation platform Automated Insights, is also used by Allstate, Comcast, and Yahoo.

In January, AP told The Verge that no jobs had been lost due to the service. The newswire appears to see the technology as a means of filling gaps in its coverage rather than as a way to replace human reporters with robots. AP says it already creates most of its "sports agate" — fine print usually used for charts and statistics — using automation. In 2013, the company introduced automated player rankings to its NFL coverage, which includes weekly text descriptions of player performances.

The rollout of the automated sports stories is expected to begin this spring and will continue over the next 20 months.