June 07, 2011
Brittle hockey sticks are a regular sight during games, with the newer one-piece composite twigs always snapping at a critical moment in the game (just ask Alex Edler Monday night).
A professor and some students (including one hockey blogger) from the University of Waterloo believe they've come up with a solution to help develop stronger sticks and save coaches a few gray hairs when the $300-plus pieces of equipment fail.
Please welcome your new robotic overlord: the SlapShotXT.
Profiled in the Toronto Star in April, HockeyRobotics created the two-handed robot that's capable of ripping a slapper 110 mph -- faster than Zdeno Chara's(notes) record-breaking shot from the 2011 NHL All-Star Game (or if you're one to take the KHL's word, about as fast as Denis Kulyash's).
Professor John McPhee, the man behind the SlapShotXT, said the company will begin official testing for stick-makers next month and was originally testing a similar idea with golf clubs five years ago. They already have an agreement with equipment-maker Sherbrook.
From the Canadian Press via the Globe and Mail:
"I thought, 'Well how hard can that be?' It turns out to be quite a bit harder than making a golf robot, because a golf robot only needs one arm, it only needs to hold a club at one spot," Prof. McPhee explained.
"With a hockey robot, you have to hold a stick in two places and the stick has to be able to bend significantly between those two locations."
Not only will durable sticks hopefully come out of this invention, but we imagine coaches will find a use for them to work on their goaltenders as well as for tipping drills.
We're just waiting for when the idea of robot umpires in baseball finally comes over to the world of hockey.