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Dartmouth Football Kicks Off High-Tech Season

Aug 26, 2015   |   by Bill Platt   |   Dartmouth Now

Dartmouth football heads into the fall with the highest preseason Ivy League ranking in 18 years and an arsenal of high-tech tools that Big Green head coach Buddy Teevens ’79 expects will reduce injuries and give all his players virtually unlimited practice time on the field.

Mobile Virtual Player
Victor Williams ’16 tackles the Mobile Virtual Player, which he and his teammates will use at practice. Quinn Connell ’13, Thayer ’14, controls the device, which he and other Thayer engineers helped develop. (Photo by Eli Burakian ’00)

This week Dartmouth—ranked No. 2 in the Ivy League preseason poll—will unveil the first robotic mobile tackling dummy. Developed at Thayer School of Engineering, the wheeled, self-righting, remotely controlled Mobile Virtual Player (MVP) simulates a football player in size, weight, and agility, allowing players to make full contact while minimizing head and neck injuries. ...

... the MVP tool will allow for blocking and tackling practice that cuts the chance of injury significantly, says Teevens, a nationally known leader in efforts to reduce injuries in collegiate athletics.

“Health is a huge thing in our game, and certainly in this league,” says Teevens, who led the Big Green to the Ivy League title in 1978 as Dartmouth quarterback and Ivy Player of the Year.

It was this concern that prompted Teevens two years ago to support the MVP project, brought to him by a former Dartmouth defensive tackle, Elliot Kastner ’13, Thayer ’14 and ’15.

Since then, Thayer Research Engineer John Currier ’79 has worked with Kastner and other Thayer students to develop the prototype. The researchers have a patent pending and are developing a business plan with the Dartmouth Entrepreneurial Network. The MVPs are to be marketed to pro, college, high school and youth teams in the near future.

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