The NFL is trying to address the growing issue of concussions, but Dartmouth’s Thayer School of Engineering has come up with a novel way to address injury for Dartmouth’s football team. Every week for practice, a crowd of robotic dummies takes the field, called the “Mobile Virtual Player” or MVP (of course) for short.
These dummies will be quite useful to prevent concussions in players because they provide players with something to repeatedly tackle – without the risk for injuring each other. The team hasn’t used player-on-player tackling drills for five seasons now, a rule implemented to decrease the number of player concussions. The MVPs move around, so the players can practice hitting moving targets with minimal risk. Dartmouth coaches remotely control the MVPs, allowing accurate simulation in almost every possible position on the field.
The robots cost about $3,500 to make, and could be an emormous benefit to football players all over the world. Researchers are attempting to get the MVPs rolled out to high schools, colleges, youth football programs, and eventually the professional teams. Meanwhile, the designers work on making the MVPs more adept at mimicking field movements to make the tackling scenarios more realistic.