Dartmouth's football team has welcomed a new teammate and entry in the coming robot wars: remote-controlled, foam-encased robotic dummies.
Built by the Dartmouth engineering school, the "Mobile Virtual Player" -- MVP! Get it? -- is designed to allow players to practice tackling without actually tackling one another and risking concussion or other injuries. It provides a more dynamic solution than traditional dummies, which are stationary or track-bound and lack the artificial intelligence to convincingly imitate opposing football players or to wage war on humanity.
"They're now working on making it easier for coaches to control them so they act more realistically," WMUR concludes, which is another way of saying that the coaches do not currently have real control of the robots.
Look -- anything that could reduce the incidence of head and neck injuries, a significant percentage of which occur during practice, should be applauded. It is good that smart people are taking this seriously, and that institutions like Dartmouth are investing resources into finding new ways to protect athletes.
But we probably shouldn't be building semi-autonomous, human-sized megarobots specifically designed to be indestructible as they rocket themselves around.
What could go wrong?