Tackle the Future: Robotic tackling dummies make football practice safer, more high-tech

The BLHS football team has been practicing against the Mobile Virtual Player Drive, a robotic tackling dummy with moves that simulate a real player.

They deliver packages, build cars, mow lawns, and even perform Shakespeare. Frankly, it’s only a matter of time before robots try to take over the planet completely.

So it’s a good thing there’s an elite team of humans at Bishop Lynch High School getting ready to fight back.

The BLHS football team has been practicing against the Mobile Virtual Player Drive, a robotic tackling dummy with moves that simulate a real player.

“15-17 miles per hour,” said Kevin McLeod, GM of Rogers Athletic, the MVP Drive’s manufacturer. “So it is moving at 195 pounds.”

And, of course, since robot-fighting skills won’t be needed for a while (knock on wood), it’s a pretty good way to get better at football in the meantime.

“The idea was to not hit other players at practice,” McLeod said. “They’re learning to keep their heads up and do what really is technique-sensitive in tackling.”

Keeping players from getting hit also makes practice safer. McLeod says Dartmouth, one of the college programs piloting the Drive, has seen an 80% reduction in practice injuries since 2015.

Safe to say this thing’s a pretty big improvement over the old-school tackling dummies…

And hey, it’s nice to know someone’s getting pretty good at taking down robots. You know, just in case.