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Football Program Uses Robots To Keep Young Players Safe During Practice

WESTFORD (CBS)- The Westford-Acton-Boxboro Knights Pop Warner Football program is stepping up their game using new state of the art Mobile Virtual Players or MVPs to help avoid concussions during practice.

"This bag helps with not hitting and having the impact up here," Orion Saunders, a player for the Knights explained pointing to his head.

"We've been able to work on tackling at a high level and not sacrifice bodies," said Coach David Silton.

Westford football
Pop Warner football players tackle MVPs (WBZ-TV)

Silton said teams now have more restrictions when it comes to live tackling during practice. So the towns decided to invest in the MVP, Spartan Pursuer, and the Tackle Wheel to keep the contact on the field serious but safe.

"It's allowing a lot of contact, which the boys love to do," said Silton, "but it's lessening the amount of collisions between kids which no one loves to see."

"It's pretty real and cuts like a regular person," said Orion.

The players seem to love it. The MVP can go about 16 mph and weighs about 160 pounds.

"Instead of hitting harder and having the chance to hurt your head you have almost no chance of hurting your head," said player Kaden Silton.

"It makes me feel safer knowing that I may not have as many head injuries," said Orion.

Pop Warner football players chase MVPs (WBZ-TV)

The Mobile Virtual Player is not cheap, in fact each one of the dummies cost about $4,000 but coaches and parents felt it was a good investment in order to protect their kids the best way they know how.

Parent Anne LaFond weighed in on the new technology. "As a parent we are so concerned about safety with tackle football and this team and coaches has done a great job investing in this safety equipment it really gives you a peace of mind," LaFond said.

Another parent, Mike Saunders, sees potential for other teams as well. "What we are doing I hope will be replicated by a bunch of teams down the road," Saunders said.

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