Joggobot Keeps the Pace

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No joke, the other day I decided to go jogging for the first time in 10 years. I didn't get very far before I had to stop. The tar fumes coming off the freshly asphalted road I chose to jog on probably didn't help matters, nor did the fact that I was running in cheap basketball shoes and corduroy cut-off shorts.

But I won't put the entire blame on my lack of running attire. My failure to make it 400 meters before sucking wind and nearly collapsing into a ditch of poison ivy probably has something to do with being out of shape.

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However, I might have at least made it to the end of the road had Joggobot been flying in front of me, whirring out inspiration and dangling the carrot in front of this donkey's nose.

Who or what is Joggobot, you ask? No, it's not a new fraction of robotic Juggalos, though that sounds absolutely terrifying.

Joggobot is a quad-rotor helicopter drone, developed by Floyd Mueller and Eberhard Grather at the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology, and it's here to help sandbaggers like me go the extra mile.

Grather and company took an AR Drone and used customized software to program Joggobot so that it flies a few yards ahead of a runner and keeps pace. Joggers wear a T-shirt with a specialized blue and orange pattern that Joggobot recognizes and follows.

When an onboard camera "sees" the pattern, Joggobot hovers about 4 feet off the ground and maintains a safe distance no matter how fast the jogger is running.

"People enjoy jogging together, but a lot of people, they just don't have anyone who jogs with them. Or they just start off jogging and need someone to run at their pace," Grather said. "So, maybe it's good for them to have this bot system of Joggobot that motivates them."

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With this research, Grather said his team tried to investigate the bigger picture of how people will exercise in the future and what role robots will play.

Check out the following video of Joggobot in action. However, Grather's jolly face and Austrian accent made me want to invite him over for a plate of Wiener schnitzel and a stein of beer. But that doesn't sound like the diet of any runner I know. No wonder I'm out of shape.

via Exertion Games Lab

Credit: Exertion Games Lab

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