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It’s kid versus robot in football practice

North Bergen football players work out against remote-controlled dummies

A North Bergen student athlete tackles the remote -controlled dummy. Photos by Art Schwartz.

North Bergen’s football players have been practicing against robotic opponents.

The remote-controlled tackling dummy

The township’s Recreation Department ordered four Mobile Virtual Players (MVPs) in September. The MVPs are life-sized remote-controlled tackling dummies that can charge across the field at up to 20 miles per hour during practice sessions.

The MVPs are used by high school football players and student athletes in the Recreation Department program.

Protecting student athletes

Mayor Nicholas Sacco and Parks and Recreation Commissioner Hugo Cabrera purchased the MVPs as part of their ongoing effort to protect the health and safety of student athletes.

Sacco noted that the remote-controlled tackling dummies are commonly used by professionals in lieu of player-to-player contact.

“North Bergen’s student football players are now using the same type of practice equipment that college and professional players use,” Sacco said.

The robotic tackling dummy is built to simulate the size, weight, speed, and agility of a player. This allows full contact reps in a more controlled, game-relevant environment while mitigating risk to players.

The remote control

Used by both professional and college teams, MVPs allow players to practice hard while eliminating the possibility of helmet-to-helmet contact. This decreases the chance of injury.

Helmet-to-helmet contact and other player-to-player collisions can cause concussions, which occur mostly during practice.

Sacco continued: “These robotic tackling dummies can really move across the field, challenging the players while reducing risk of injury, especially from helmet-to-helmet contact. We’re proud to have brought this technology to North Bergen to help keep our school and recreation players safe and healthy.”

Recreation Department football players and coaches

For updates on this and other stories, check www.hudsonreporter.com and follow us on Twitter @hudson_reporter. Daniel Israel can be reached at disrael@hudsonreporter.com.

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