The video: Sticking to an exercise routine takes dedication, and many fitness junkies swear that a running companion can be a huge help. For those who lack a human partner, researchers Floyd Mueller and Eberhard Grather, of the Exertion Games Lab at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia, have developed "Joggobot," a quad-rotor helicopter drone designed to motivate joggers by flying in front of them (watch a video below). The aerial robot uses its camera to spot a colorful pattern on a T-shirt worn by the jogger, and flies at a safe distance ahead. The runner can control Joggobot using a smartphone: In "companion mode," the drone simply maintains the jogger's pace; in "coach mode," it pushes its human trainee a little faster.
The reaction: If it's ever commercialized, Joggobot could be a godsend for joggers looking for a reliable way to control their pace, says Trevor Mogg at Digital Trends. Can you imagine a marathon with "30,000 of these things flying along with the runners"? Actually, no ... Joggobot would get left in the dust, says Olivia Solon at Wired U.K. These drones have a battery life of 20 minutes, so they wouldn't be much help to serious runners. Still, says Michael Kwan at Mobile Magazine, imagine the possibilities. "You could equip Joggobot to keep the path lit when you go for a run at night, for example," or use "Kinect-esque motion-based waving" to get it to speed up or slow down on command. Try getting a human jogging buddy to do that. Witness the Joggobot in action:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- The 11 worst fast food restaurants in America
- 7 things the world's happiest people do every day
- 7 grammar rules you really should pay attention to
- Why are so many parents being arrested?
- 9 things you probably didn't know about the moon
- Why America is duty bound to help Iraqi Christians
- What if The Purge was real?
- Israel has only two choices: Eliminate the Palestinians or make peace
- The biggest lesson Obama failed to learn from Bush
- What I learned from totally unplugging and shutting up for three days
Subscribe to the Week