In Honor of Super Bowl LV, Mark Rober Built a Record-Setting Field Goal Robot
Mark Rober made this field goal robot to go head-to-head against NFL record-holder Matt Prater.
Super Bowl LV is happening today, and that means that it is time for us to bring you some of that sweet football content that Hackster is famous for. This is the 55th NFL Super Bowl and the game has changed dramatically over the decades. That includes a variety of strategies for kicking field goals. But even so, field goal kick distances have remained fairly consistent with most NFL kickers topping out at about 52 yards. A 63-yard record was set by Tom Dempsey in 1970 and wasn’t broken until 2013, when Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater pulled off a 64-yard kick. Mark Rober thought he could do better, and built this field goal robot to go head-to-head against Prater.
Matt Prater now plays for the Detroit Lions and continues to be a top-performing kicker. While he hasn’t exceeded his record-breaking 64-yard field goal in an NFL game, he can still consistently reach that distance in practice. There was no better kicker for Rober to put his field goal robot up against in friendly competition. The word “robot” is a bit of a misnomer here, as this field goal-kicking contraption is almost completely mechanical. A reinforced fake leg is mounted onto a rotating plate so that it can swing around and kick the football. Very heavy springs connected to the leg via sprockets and rotate the leg at a tremendous speed and those springs are tensioned by an electric winch.
The contest between Prater and Rober started off like a game of HORSE, with Rober kicking increasingly-long field goals with his own measly human foot. As you’d expect, Prater was easily able to match Rober’s kicks until they reached 45 yards — a distance that Rober couldn’t manage. In his defense, he actually did very well for an amateur. After that failure, Rober rolled out his mechanical kicker. That insane machine, dubbed “Ray Finkle,” has springs that contain up to two tons of kinetic force. When the fake leg makes contact properly with the football to achieve the proper kick trajectory, that force is enough to kick the football across the entire length of football field.
This machine can kick far harder and faster than a human ever could—even an elite athlete like Prater who has dedicated his life to kicking footballs. After tuning the trajectory, Rober’s robot was able to easily surpass Prater’s incredible field goal record. Prater was able to kick a 65-yard field goal in the contest, but failed at the 70-yard mark. The kicker bot was able to reach a mind-boggling 84 yards. Unfortunately, that destroyed the machine’s sprocket key. Rober wasn’t able to attempt further distances, but it is safe to say that his robot’s record will never be beat by a puny human.