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UAS – Unmanned Aerial Sports

Fitness Drones Are a Thing Now

A personal fitness drone.
Traverse Fitness Drone (Photo courtesy of Soomin Son and Jinseon Lee)

Are you tired of paying someone to chew you out like a Marine Corps drill sergeant to whip your desk-bound body into shape? Have you had enough of jogging solo or that running partner who won’t stop yakking while you’re trying to get into the zone?

Problem solved.

Students at Seoul, South Korea’s Hongik University have designed an AI-powered drone, called the Traverse. The inventors hope to capitalize on the recreational drone market that Research and Markets analysts pegged at US$ 2.33 billion in 2020. Combined with the wearables market valued at US$ 30 billion, a fitness drone device could really take off – financially speaking.

A previous attempt by researchers at the Exertion Games Laboratory at RMIT University in Melbourne, Australia in 2012, produced the Joggobot. But, that effort had limitations. The Lab’s director at the time, Florian “Floyd” Mueller, explained that the Joggobot could only jog or walk in straight lines and its battery life constrained jogs or walks to less than 30 minutes.

What Mueller did find most surprising, though, was how people treated the bot as a real companion. “People sometimes said they wanted to run until ‘he or she’ died. The fact that they even said ‘he’ or ‘she’ was kind of fascinating,” Mueller said

The Traverse is still conceptual, but it’s been designed with multiple cameras that enable it to navigate without any external controls. When joggers or runners wear a pod around their necks or clipped to their clothing, the Traverse can collect performance data, take photos and videos, and provide voice feedback on posture and speed. It can even communicate with family and friends. The technology might even enable blind or visually impaired joggers to expand their fitness horizons.

Drones are already being used in team sports, such as football (soccer to our American readers), to coordinate athletes on the playing field. The robots are not only coming – in many cases, they are already here.

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Dave Clarke

Dave Clarke is a California-based writer who is fascinated by the way technology changes our lives.