Football has a concussion problem. To fight the growing stigma attached to America's most popular sport, there has been an increased focus on the most basic gridiron action: the tackle. From youth initiatives to increasingly draconian penalties for the most violent hits in the professional and collegiate ranks, just about everyone has offered a method to make the game safer -- including a group of Dartmouth engineering students.
Their solution is exactly what you'd expect from a group of engineers: they built a robot for players to tackle instead of people.
The group's work was sponsored by Dartmouth Head Coach Eugene Teemens, to create a safe tackling device called the Mobile Virtual Player (MVP!), which is essentially a normal football tackling dummy on remote-controlled wheels. The design has been awarded a provisional patent, and this year's training camp is the first test run. If the MVPs are deemed a success, the team plans to produce more for other football teams to use in the future. Let's just hope the MVPs don't get too comfortable out there -- the last thing the coach needs is a robot demanding more playing time.