Steelers Experimenting With New Robot Designed To Make Practice Safer

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) — The Pittsburgh Steelers have a new team MVP.

No, it’s not Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown or Cam Heyward; no, this player is a real dummy.

A robotic dummy operated by a remote control to be precise. It’s the latest in sports technology, and the Steelers say they have introduced it for off-season workouts.

The device is called the Mobile Virtual Player, or MVP, and it was developed at Dartmouth College’s Thayer School of Engineering, according to the Steelers.

The goal is increasing player safety.

According to the Steelers, MVP was developed after Darthmouth’s football coach banned tackling during practices due to the risk of injury.

Elliot Kastner is the co-founder and director of research and development on the project. He also used to play football at the Ivy League school. He talked with the Steelers on Thursday.

He said: “We were tasked with how can we practice tackling without utilizing another player? What it comes down to is repetitive impact on players is what we are trying to eliminate. We realized the safest thing to do is pull one of those players out of the drill. It was introduced to reduce player on player contact.”

The developers tell the Steelers that MVP can “cut, weave, stop and start, and it has speed.” And as the Steelers are finding out, it can be used in various different ways, including tackling, passing drills and more.

The Steelers say head coach Mike Tomlin first heard about MVP last year and decided the team should experiment with the new technology.

He tells Steelers.com: “The players are generally open, particularly this time of year, to new things. We always try to challenge them with some new tool that will help them grow and develop, and they are always looking for new tools to help them grow and develop. I think they are excited. I imagine it’s a great tool from a tackling tech standpoint. In today’s NFL, with player safety the focus that it is, I think it’s going to provide opportunities to improve in that area without the hand to hand or man to man combat associated with that teaching.”

To read much more about the Mobile Virtual Player technology, visit the Steelers website here.

MVP is still in the testing phase. Developers tell the Steelers they hope to have it available in 2017.

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