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Remote-controlled tackling dummy puts on a show at college football practice
Mar 31, 2016 | by Peter J. Wallner | mLive
Davenport University's football team got a look Tuesday at what a Clare manufacturer says can be a difference maker on the practice field.
The Mobile Virtual Player, a motorized tackling dummy created about three years ago at Dartmouth, was put through its paces under the remote-controlled direction of Grant Rogers of Rogers Athletic Company.
The prototype, which checks in at 180 pounds and can reach speeds of 18 mph, was tried out as part of kickoff and tackling drills for the Panthers, a first-year NAIA Division II program. It can turn on a dime, spin, get knocked over and will auto-correct itself (stand back up) 80 percent of the time.
The MVP allows players to practice tackling, cutting and blocking, among other things, without use of a second player. This, Rogers said, helps prevent injury in one-on-one tackling drills.
Rogers Athletics, which partnered with MVP and has licensed the technology, said the hope is to have it available to purchase by January 1.
Once players at Davenport got over the initial shock of pursuing a tackling dummy, the device seemed to work well, though it was easily knocked off its wheels in high-speed drills.
"Anything that's innovative and can help a team, I'm all for looking into," Davenport coach Lou Esposito said of the visit.
Rogers said pre-production testing has been done at five other schools, including this spring at Michigan State and Central Michigan.