In March, we introduced you to Tacocopter, a drone helicopter that could automatically deliver tacos to wherever you were standing.
Meet the opposite of that. It's name is Joggobot, and, like the Tacocopter, it's a drone helicopter that is built to interact with humans. But instead of air-delivering a bag of Mexican food to your lazy butt, this unmanned copter flies alongside of you while you jog and makes sure you're keeping up a proper, brisk pace. And if you can't keep up a proper, brisk pace?
It shoots you in the head with a laser.
Well, not really. Actually, it just slows down for you. Maybe in version 2.0, it will have lasers.
For now, however, the Joggobot has just two modes, neither of which involve lasers: In the first, your running sets the pace that the Joggobot flies, while in the second, the Joggobot tracks how fast you're going and then speeds up over time to make you go faster. In both modes, the Joggobot flies in front of you and uses a camera to track a pair of sensors you wear on your shirt. So, for those imagining roads full of joggers being chased by miniature helicopters -- it's the other way around. The joggers are chasing the Joggobots, like carrots dangled on strings, just out of reach.
The Joggobot prototype comes from the Exertion Games Lab at RMIT University in Australia. Below, check out a video of the little robot who just might be your next running partner:
Like Tacocopter, the Joggobot is still in development and likely "many years" from being released in stores, according to The Age. Among the questions that the Joggobot team will have to consider:
- How high or low to the ground should the Joggobot fly in order to be the most motivational running partner it can be?
- What's the best way for a runner to instruct the Joggobot to slow down or speed up?
- If you are running with Joggobot outdoors, and the Joggobot flies a few feet in front of the runner, how can you ensure that the Joggobot doesn't just crash directly into a pedestrian on the street?
...and others, I'm sure.
For a more in-depth look at the Joggobot, watch this segment from ABC Australia's "Catalyst" program. And when you're done with that, go outside, take a run, and enjoy these final years of the outdoors without little buzzing robot-coaches all over our streets and parks.
Dead Cat Helicopter
Dutch artist Bart Jansen made waves recently, when he stuffed and strapped his dead cat Orville to a specially designed flying mechanism, creating the "<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/04/cat-helicopter_n_1567541.html" target="_hplink">Orvillecopter</a>." The piece of art, which is on display at the Kunstrai art festival in Amsterdam, is meant to honor the memory of Jansen's feline friend who was run over by a car.
If it looks like a bat and acts like a bat, then it's probably a bat -- or a bat-like drone. The <a href="http://www.disam.upm.es/~jdcolorado/BAT/MicroBat.html" target="_hplink">BaTboT</a> is designed to <a href="http://www.theverge.com/2012/6/4/3060768/batbot-flying-robot-drone" target="_hplink">mimic the flight pattern of bats</a>, which use less energy by folding their wings toward their body during flight. The drone is being developed as a way to reduce energy costs during flight. (<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/kahunapulej/4025309701/" target="_hplink">Image via Flickr,</a> Kahunapule Michael Johnson)
Food delivery reached an entirely new level with the debut of the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/03/23/tacocopter-startup-delivers-tacos-by-unmanned-drone-helicopter_n_1375842.html" target="_hplink">TacoCopter</a>. Created by a Silicon Valley start-up, the unmanned drone flies freshly prepared tacos to nearby locations -- currently, only in the San Francisco area. The best part is you can order the meal directly from your smartphone.
The <a href="http://www.sys-con.com/node/2289146" target="_hplink">Parrot AR.Drone 2.0</a> can be controlled by mobile devices that run iOS or Android. The phone-controlled flying contraption tops out at 11 miles per hour and can run for about 12 minutes without a recharge.
BONUS: Human-Powered Helicopter
This is about as far from a drone as you can get. Judy Wexler, then a biology graduate student at the University of Maryland, made history last year when she became the <a href="http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/aviation/diy-flying/a-human-powered-helicopter-takes-flight" target="_hplink">first woman to fly a human-powered helicopter</a> for 4.2 seconds.