Robotic Football Dummy to Eliminate Player Collisions

With the NFL Draft only days away, young players will be watching and dreaming of the day their name will be called.

Now there's a developing technology coming from Dartmouth College that's being used to help them get there safely.

It's called Mobile Virtual Player, or MVP for short.

It's a tackling dummy on wheels that's controlled by a remote. It was created to eliminate player-on-player collisions during practice.

"A guy that comes to Dartmouth will never tackle a Dartmouth player in his four years," said head football coach Buddy Teevens.

The dummy was developed by Teevens along with engineer John Currier. A team was formed between the football players and Dartmouth's Thayer School of Engineering.

"The technology is to really take what we know as a static tackling bag and motorize it so it moves to try and emulate the speed and agility of a player," said Currier, CEO of Mobile Virtual Player.

The dummy weighs 180 pounds, runs a 4.7 40-yard dash and cuts on a dime.

Dartmouth Football has been using the dummy for two years, and in that time, their number of player concussions has dropped by nearly 58 percent.

Teevens says it protects other injuries, too — hits to shoulders, backs, necks, arms and hands.

The MVP is already on the practice field for NFL teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, Baltimore Ravens and Miami Dolphins.

"Patriots have been curious about it, as well," said Teevens. "Right now, we hope they're kind of the second edition."

According to Currier, locally, Wayland High School and Harvard University have orders in.

The MVP runs on a lithium battery. A charge lasts about three hours.

Each dummy costs about $8,200 — a price point the creators are trying to cut down to make it more accessible to teams with tight budgets. On their website, they have a tool where teams can fund raise.

"We think the important thing to do is to get this technology down to youth players," said Currier. "That's where they're learning to tackle and they do a lot of contact and they're coaching and learning a lot at that level."

Prototypes for the youngest of players is expected to be on the field by this summer. To do that, they are using funds from the NFL.

Engineers are also looking at the possibility of synchronizing multiple dummies to run plays to mimic a defense or offense.

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