Inventions: The Joggobot
Take a peek at an invention its creators hope will revolutionise the way you go jogging.PT0M0S 620 349
FORGET about personal trainers and jogging buddies, Chad Toprak prefers to work up a sweat alongside a hovering robot.
The RMIT honours student is part of the team behind the Joggobot, an autonomous whizzing device that levitates in front of joggers and encourages them to get fit.
''It's a really unique feeling to be running with a flying robot,'' the 22-year-old says. ''Social joggers have partners they jog with. Sometimes they are not available and the next best thing can be a robot.''
Chad Toprak works out with the Joggobot, an autonomous robotic jogging buddy currently under development. Photo: Craig Sillitoe
The robot is suited to all types of joggers - it has a companion mode that moves in tune with your pace and a more challenging coach mode. ''The coach mode basically tries to push you to your limits,'' Mr Toprak says.
''It flies in front of you at a very fast speed and you try and catch up. I've tried running and sprinting with it and I can't catch up with it.''
The idea for the levitating exercise buddy came about last October in RMIT's bustling Exertion Games Lab.
A group of games developers, including project leader Eberhard Grather, Florian Mueller, Wouter Walmink and Mr Toprak decided they wanted to meld robotics with physical activity to improve the experience of jogging.
They bought a simple drone and programmed it to respond to an orange and blue marker on a T-shirt worn by the jogger. A built-in camera attached to the drone lets it track the jogger and move accordingly. ''The original product was controlled by a phone. We turned that into an autonomous robot that controls itself.''
While the device is still being developed, and many years away from mass production, it has already got people talking.
The Joggobot was recently packed into a box and shipped to America where it was displayed and presented at the Computer-Human Interaction conference in Austin, Texas.
It has also been tested on 20 joggers who have provided the game developers with some useful feedback.
''They instantly connected with it,'' Mr Toprak says.