We recently reviewed the AR Parrot Drone 2.0 - and while we loved it we had to admit there were not many real-world uses for an helicopter you fly with an iPhone.
But now one research lab has proven us wrong.
'Joggobot' is a self-stabilising quadcopter which will run alongside you as you exercise, offering encouragement and seting your pace.
It's based on Parrot's AR Drone, but the Exertion Games Lab in Melbourne had added new software to enable it to track a special T-shirt worn by the runner.
The result is that Joggobot follows you around, flying above you in either 'companion mode' or 'coach mode', which offers a faster pace.
Wired reports that if the robot hears you puffing it will whirr encouragingly, and has been reported to boost motivation.
"We use Joggobot to ask the question how (and if) robots should support us when exercising," the team writes.
"As such, Joggobot helps us to understand the interactions between a person and a robot. Our Joggobot is able to track the position of the jogger via an built-in camera and tag detection software. This software turns the previously human-controlled quadcopter into an autonomous flying robot that reacts to the jogger’s actions.
"We ask questions such as “Should the robot be a pacemaker for the jogger? If so, can this be motivating? Or should the Joggobot be more like a dog, reacting to the jogger like a pet companion?
How does this affect the interaction, and in particular, the exercise experience for the jogger? Will joggers run faster or longer because of the robot? And, maybe more importantly, will the jog be more engaging?”
Unfortunately - or fortunately, depending on your level of fitness - the joggobot only has a battery life of 20 minutes, and it's just a research project. So don't bank on seeing a fleet on competing robots above the Olympic marathon route in July.
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