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The project began when Dartmouth coach Buddy Teevens eliminated live tackling from football practice in an attempt to reduce this statistic for his team.
Although this spared the players from risking additional head injuries, it also left them with no way to simulate game intensity during the week. Coach Teevens turned to the Dartmouth’s School of Engineering to see if they could design a solution.
Engineering student Quinn Connell and a few of his peers immediately recognized the potential of the project and took on the Coach’s challenge as part of their curriculum. By 2015, they had developed their first working prototype. After implementing the tackle dummies during practice at Dartmouth for two seasons, they found that incidents of concussions were reduced by 58%.
Within a year they had launched their first product: the MVP | DRIVE. The technology was well-received and MVP completely sold out within their first two years of operation. The new tackle robots were quickly adopted by over half the NFL, more than forty colleges, and over seventy-five high schools throughout the US.
In 2019, MVP launched a new, more affordable model designed to fit the performance needs and budgets of high school and youth programs. The new MVP | SPRINT model weighs 160lbs and has a top speed of 16-18 mph. It was designed and engineered in conjunction with Westborough manufacturer, Columbia Tech.
The MVP team recognized that they needed an experienced contract manufacturer to help them design a lighter, more affordable tackle dummy. After exploring several options in the area, they chose Columbia Tech.
“They looked great on paper, of course, but after touring the facility, they really stood out as a company that values its practice,” said Quinn Connell, co-founder of MVP Robotics. “Columbia Tech has helped us accelerate the product launch cycle for MVP’s robotic training systems. It’s been a great relationship back and forth. We’ve been able to pull in other engineers for focused areas of expertise and hands-on assembly when needed. Our partnership with Columbia Tech allows us to flex our team as needed to meet market demands.”
“Columbia Tech has helped us accelerate the product launch cycle for MVP’s robotic training systems. It’s been a great relationship back and forth. We’ve been able to pull in other engineers for focused areas of expertise and hands-on assembly when needed. Our partnership with Columbia Tech allows us to flex our team as needed to meet market demands.”
Columbia Tech’s engineering team has extensive knowledge of the product development process including software engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, finite element analysis, HALT, HASS, and safety. Their Scaled Product Launch™ (SPL) process is a well-documented phase gate approach to successfully launch new products with accuracy, efficiency, and collaboration. It incorporates all aspects of the product development cycle to consistently ensure efficient and successful product launches.
“We’re very excited to be working on a project that will have such a positive impact. It’s a great piece of technology, and we’ve developed an excellent working relationship with the team at MVP,” said Chris Coghlin, President and CEO of Coghlin Companies.
The Caring Associates at Columbia Tech provided full, from the ground-up, design and engineering support for the MVP team to help them create a product that would meet their goals. Over the course of the project, Columbia Tech implemented best practices for build and assembly documentation, as well as provided DFM services to streamline their production timeline. Within a year of completing the concept design, the new SPRINT model was launched. MVP sold out of the initial 50 units and a new run of 130 units is already sold out.
Following the successful development and introduction of the world’s first robotic tackling dummy, new opportunities and applications for the technology have presented themselves along the way. MVP has continued developing its patented robotic system and is currently designing a remote-controlled, fully armored, all-terrain, and responsive live-fire target for tactical training applications. Other opportunities include using the dummies as stand-ins for pedestrians when testing autonomous vehicles.
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