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Drone Helps Blind Runners in Their Fitness Regime
New fitness technologies are being designed every day and a drone that assists blind runners in their fitness regime is one of such technologies developed to aid the visually impaired. Designed by a University of Nevada researcher and professor of computer science, Eelke Folmer, who heads the UNR’s Human Plus Lab. Folmer uses the noise made by drones with camera to the benefit of blind athletes. His prototype drone system guides blind runners around the track, giving them the freedom to do their exercises independent of a sighted guide. There is new segment in drones market, it’s called “follow me drones“. Those drones are very useful for persons who like to spend their time outdoors. You can use them while running too, just charge it and let it automatically record you while you’re running. Most of drones are following you based on GPS while there are some of them that implements face/body recognition.
Fitted with two cameras; one that focuses on the symbol on a runner’s shirt, and a downward-facing camera that trails track lines, the quadcopter’s level of flight is at eye level, in front of the runner by about 10ft, using the drone sound to guide them. The drone is able to adjust its own speed accordingly as the runner slows down or speeds up. The drone also features a foam hull to prevent injury or damage if someone were to collide with it.
According to Folmer, he is yet to test out his creation outdoors due to the fact that the University’s location is very near the Reno Airport so it is subject to the FAA’s regulations on drones. He is currently in talks with the airport’s radio tower to look for ways to override the rule. “We’ve had some very basic indoor trials moving in a straight line and it appears like it worked. I’m not quite certain how it’s going to work on a real running track where you also need to go through turns and bends.”
There are a lot of assistive devices to aid with communication and navigation, but there are relatively few technologies targeted at helping the visually impaired in tackling fitness and obesity which portends a serious problem for the disabled community. According to available data from a research published by the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, one in three adults that are able-bodied in the U.S are regarded as obese or extremely obese, but when it comes to disabled adults, the figure rises to one in two.
The use of guide drones provides the following benefits:
- Cost. Drones for sale provide an inexpensive option, and this is important because assistive technology can be incredibly expensive.
- Obstacles. Drones do not need to make up for rough surfaces and they have the ability to negotiate slopes or obstacles, stairs, potholes with no effort, and rocks.
- Speed. Drones are able to fly to a speed of 11mph, a speed that is appropriate for most runners.