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Meet Joggobot, the flying robot that sets your jogging pace

Jogging to keep fit is all well and good but while you’re pounding the streets it can sometimes be hard to keep the desired pace going. You don’t want to burn out before you complete your run, while at the same time you don’t want to finish with a load of fuel still left in the tank.

Asking a friend or partner to jump on their bike and cycle ahead to help you maintain a consistent speed may be met with a look of disdain, and as for trying to explain the concept of pacing to your dog, well, good luck with that.

It’s an issue that’s obviously been playing on the minds of Floyd Mueller and Eberhard Gräther — both researchers at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia — as the pair have been working on developing a special helicopter drone designed to help joggers keep a steady pace during their runs.

“With this research we try to investigate the bigger picture of how people [will] exercise in the future, and what role robots will play in it,” Gräther explains in a video about Joggobot.

The quad-rotored helicopter drone uses a built-in camera and tag detection software to keep track of special markings on a T-shirt worn by the runner. Once it detects the markings, Joggobot flies ahead of the runner at a height of about one meter and at a speed set by the runner using a custom-built smartphone app. If Joggobot loses sight of the markings, it immediately lands instead of simply flying off into the distance, never to be seen again.

If Joggobot is ever commercialized, it could definitely become a hit with serious runners looking for a reliable way to control their pace. What we’d really like to see though is a marathon with 30,000 of these things flying along with the runners. Now that’d be quite some spectacle.

[Source: New Scientist / ABC]