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Sports Applications Technology

AeroTrainer Brings a Robotic Eye in the Sky to Sports Training

March 06, 2014


In life, so many major advancements are made just from looking at a problem from a different perspective. A new angle, philosophically speaking, on a problem can spot new issues, and new solutions as well. But in the cases of the AeroTrainer robot, the philosophical becomes literal, and a robotic quadricopter drone provides a new look at old problems.

The AeroTrainer, currently being developed with a flight academy in New Jersey, allows trainers to get a look at athletes from an aerial perspective, allowing said trainers to better spot issues connected with sports training, and find in advance the kind of things that could lead to injury or even death. The AeroTrainer can easily keep up with an athlete running on a track or in a field, and even comes with a suite of sensors designed to help spot potential issues while the athlete is moving. For instance, it offers the ability to track heart rate and body temperature, as well as the intensity of impact taken, a point particularly useful when it comes to football. These points in turn are perfect for tracking potential risks like cardiac injury, heat prostration and potential dehydration, and even concussions.

The AeroTrainer also boasts a complete multi-axis camera system to get the best field of view possible, and can even bring in a full 3-D motion analysis to help spot potential problems in form and better reduce the chances of injury. Additionally, thanks to the accompanying myAeroTrainer app, both trainers and athletes alike can analyze the footage taken from the AeroTrainer, and put such analysis to better work in the field. Athletes can even piece together the best footage from the system to use for marketing purposes, including as “highlight reels” for recruiters.

The device can even be set to fly for as long as necessary thanks to an included tether system that allows for powering the device in flight. It can also operate on a battery system, for better range and flexibility. The company plans to focus its early sales efforts on high schools and colleges in the United States first, and from there move on to Europe, Australia and beyond. The company also has an Indiegogo campaign running to raise cash, which is currently at $175 of a goal of $75,000.

With new guidelines working toward high schools, colleges, and even professional sports teams specifically geared toward the prevention of sports-related injury, it's not surprising to see more technologies step up to try and provide the information that could make all the difference in terms of protecting against such injuries. Granted, the AeroTrainer may be a bit of overkill—it's possible that a simple tablet add-on would allow such matters to be spotted—but it certainly will provide that kind of high-up overview that makes for the best chance of not only spotting injuries, but also even play on the field. This could indeed prove a valuable addition to many sports teams' rosters, but with money tight on many campuses, could the necessary cash to get one be a hurdle said teams can't cross? It's also exciting to see another use for automated drones, joining the ranks of those engaged in pizza delivery and carrying small items.

Only time will tell if the AeroTrainer even makes it to fields worldwide, but it's a pretty safe bet that, if it does, interest should be substantial and teams ready to pick one up.

Edited by Cassandra Tucker