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Tue Jun 5, 2012, 05:06 AM


Go for a jog with a helicopter drone [View all]

By Paul Marks
June 1, 2012

Joggers who find it hard to set a steady pace could soon have a robot companion to help – a small, quad-rotor helicopter drone. The system, called Joggobot, is being developed by Floyd Mueller and Eberhard Gräther at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia.

The duo plan to allow users to enter their preferred running speed into a smartphone app that controls the drone so it flies ahead of a jogger at just the right pace. Or it could be set to maintain a distance of a few metres no matter what pace a runner is going.

They tested their idea using the foam-fendered AR Drone made by Parrot of Paris, France. Using custom software, they programmed it to follow a bright blue and orange pattern painted on a runner's T-shirt (pictured below).

As soon as an onboard camera sees the shirt, the craft takes off and hovers about a metre off the ground. If it ever loses sight of the pattern, the drone lands automatically.

Mueller says he and Gräther are tinkering with settings to test what motivates runners. "How will people interact with a robotic exercise companion? Should the robot be more like a coach or more like a pet?" he asks. "One might make the exercise more effective, but the other might make it more fun. Which one is 'better'? And is there a 'better'?"

More: http://www.newscientist.com/article/dn21877-go-for-a-jog-with-a-helicopter-drone.html

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UnrepentantLiberal Jun 2012 OP
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