Robotic Tackling Dummies Help Reduce Football-Related Injuries

CBS New York

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Football safety has improved dramatically over the past few years, and now engineers are reducing injuries using advanced technology.

More specifically, they’re using tackling robots.

It’s an odd sight at first – a tackling dummy speeding across the field, CBS’2 Steve Overmyer reports.

Overmyer asks Justin Backus, an NFL draft prospect, if he ever thought he’d tackle a robot.

“Never, never came across my mind,” he replies. “But it definitely is a game changer, I can say that.”

Apart from being awesome, having a robot tackling dummy has endless applications. For defensive players it lets them hit without hurting anyone.

“If I’m coming down and breaking, I’m coming full throttle. I’m coming to bringing the pain. I can’t do that on my teammates,” Backus says.

The mobile virtual player, or MVP, is a 200 pound remote controlled robot. It can move at 20 miles per hour, or equal to the fastest players.

“They get it out there on the field and honestly, like you, the first thing they want to do, is get the controls in their hands and drive it,” Dartmouth College’s head football coach Buddy Teevens says.

“This is really easy to drive!” Overmyer says, testing it out.

The MVP replicates ball carrier movements with no helmet-to-helmet contact. At Dartmouth College, it’s meant a 40 percent reduction in injuries.

“You can’t practice enough, because too many people get hurt. But you can tackle this thing limitless,” Teevens says.

The robots are being used by 15 teams in the NFL and dozens of college programs. They sell for about $8,000.

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