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Steelers using robotic tackling dummy in practice

The Pittsburgh Steelers have experimented with a robotic tackling dummy in practice.
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The Pittsburgh Steelers are practicing with robots.

In an effort to limit player-on-player contact during practice, the Steelers have been using a robot for tackling drills. The robot, known as the Mobile Virtual Player, is a tackling dummy developed by Dartmouth University.

The robot is able to move, make cuts, speed up and slow down and make other movements as if it were a ball carrier. The robot is still in the testing phase, but could be more available next year.

“The applications we are quickly finding are endless,” Tomlin said. “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 ... 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.”

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The Steelers open their season on Sept. 12 against the Redskins.