Boston Bruins Captain Zdeno Chara probably has enough to worry about during the Stanley Cup finals against the Vancouver Canucks to care that his fastest slapshot record can be broken by a robot.
The SlapShot XT can apparently beat Chara's world record of 105.9 mph. Developed by Hockey Robotics, a spinoff of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, the two-armed robot can repeatedly send pucks flying through the air at 110 mph.
The start-up developed the puck smasher as a method of testing the strength of hockey sticks. Since the introduction of composite sticks some years ago, broken sticks have been a problem in NHL and amateur games alike.
Golf club makers have used similar robots to test their product, but the XT is more complex because it uses two arms to wield a stick. It uses a gear, sprocket, and belt system to whack pucks into the net (see the vid below).
Engineering design professor John McPhee and a team of students say the XT is the first machine to replicate the slapshot and hope it will lead to more durable sticks. They've partnered with stick maker Sherbrook SBK Hockey to test new materials and construction techniques, a project that should yield data about stick dynamics.
Officially starting business next month, the start-up will offer stick-testing services to equipment makers, leagues, and teams. It will also work with Toronto-based Integran Technologies to strengthen sticks with a nano-metal.
Now all the XT needs to do is learn to skate.
(Via The Canadian Press)