A Mobile Virtual Player, a remote controlled robotic dummy, was introduced during Steelers workouts. The mobile dummies, developed at Dartmouth College, could aid in tackling development without the risk of players hitting each other.
"The applications we are quickly finding are endless," coach Mike Tomlin told the team's official website. "It never gets tired. It runs at an appropriate football speed. All of the position groups are getting an opportunity to use it. It's funny, you just put it on the field and watch the guys and they show you the applications. It's been fun watching that."
The video on Steelers.com is intriguing. While still in the testing phase, the robot can mimic many football moves, cuts and has been clocked at a five second 40 yard dash time. The video displays the dummies being used for tackling, chase drills, as well as placeholders for defenders in passing practice.
"I imagine it's a great tool from a tackling tech standpoint," Tomlin added. "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."
With a premium finally being placed on player safety, a tool like the "MVP" robot could become an essential part of NFL practices in the future. With tackling and pad restrictions, hitting a mobile pad could help teach techniques and schemes without the risks to players.
"It looked like someone out if I, Robot," linebacker Arthur Moats said. "But I definitely like it a lot, in a sense of being able to hit something in the open field, something that's moving, that isn't a teammate."
So long as the dummies don't tackle back, they should be a welcome addition.