During my last semester at the Georgia Institute of Technology, I was involved with the "Automated Football Launcher" senior design group. The Automated Football Launcher was designed to allow a football receiver to practice running routes and catch footballs without the need for another person to complete the passes. Now I know what you're thinking, why would Georgia Tech (Option offense) need this contraption if we barely pass the ball? Well I guess we don't, but maybe some team out there does - at least that's what we thought.
The device consists of a custom built compressed air football launcher, a motion tracking device, a platform with rotating and titling abilities, as well as a computer processing custom software to accurately deliver a football to a receiver. Check out the complete project below:
The motion tracking was performed by two webcams executing blob detection algorithms to target a specifically colored jersey. Check it out in action:
This combination of devices allows the intelligent launcher to anticipate and track a player while delivering a ball in a timely and accurate manner. We think that football teams would be able to cut down on man power for receiver drills and also allow receivers to practice running routes and catching alone.
So how well did it perform? After tons of trials and configuration we came up with a machine that actually worked. Here were the goals we achieved:
Ability to target and accurately track receivers up to 50 yards away
Ability to launch 90 yards
Ability to lead receivers while running a route
Check out the official demonstration on YouTube below: