Idaho researchers building robot to test protective hockey skate gear

While blocking shots has always been an integral part of hockey, most players wouldn’t want to be in the way of a Zdeno Chara slapshot travelling at 175.1 kilometres/hour.

Hoping to alleviate the fear of catastrophic injury that comes with blocking a hockey puck is Idaho-based tech company Fi-Ber Sports and Idaho State University (ISU), thanks to a USD111,453 Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission grant from the Idaho Department of Commerce. The two are teaming up to build a robotic device and sensors to accurately replicate and measure the impact of a fast-moving hockey puck to test how protective skate guards could work.

ISU’s Department of Robotics and Communications Systems Engineering Technology will build the apparatus, which it is hoping will be able to reach speeds of up to 100 miles/hour, while Fi-Ber Sports will provide its HOPlite Skate Armor product for evaluation against other similar products.

ISU researchers Shane Slack, left, and Geran Call. Credit: ISU website

“We are going to be measuring these forces on the hockey skate with and without the new HOPlite Skate Armor gear as well as complete comparative testing on other similar products in the market,” Shane Slack, director of the ISU robotics department and principal investigator, says in a June 30 press release.

Slack hopes to have the machine built and ready to start testing by mid-September 2017, and then run its evaluations for the rest of the year and until June 2018. The testing will be done on ISU’s campus.

“This represents advancement in our efforts to continue collaborations between our public research institution and the private sector, particularly in our support of economic development and job creation in Southeast Idaho and the region,” says Christopher Fasel, director, ISU Technology Commercialization Office.

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Mandy Kovacs
Mandy Kovacs
Mandy is a lineup editor at CTV News. A former staffer at IT World Canada, she's now contributing as a part-time podcast host on Hashtag Trending. She is a Carleton University journalism graduate with extensive experience in the B2B market. When not writing about tech, you can find her active on Twitter following political news and sports, and preparing for her future as a cat lady.

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