Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Innovation: Drones for cyclists

Image courtesy of Frog Design
Group rides are an integral part of cycling and many cyclists enjoy the group ride both for the camaraderie as well as the challenge. Having a group of people to chase can help heighten the adrenaline rush and can really improve mental focus around training. The only problem is that group rides can often be difficult to arrange, since coordinating schedules can be a pain, making sure riders are of the appropriate level is not always possible, and sometimes, you just want to enjoy the solitude of a solo ride, but still want the thrill of the chase.

One California based company believes that it may have found the perfect solution. The "Cyclodrone" concept from Frog Design is a pair of drones that can be programmed to follow a pre-determined route and offer linking to your mobile device for control and tracking, but will also carry cameras to allow recording of the ride. The drones will remain a preset distance away from the rider and provide for greater visibility of the approaching cyclist for other road users in the form of lights mounted on its body.

The concept itself is intriguing and, while it lacks the social aspects of group riding, does seem like it has the potential to offer the fitness benefits. If paired with some of the available fitness tracking programs or even an interval timer, a rider could easily pre-program a full interval workout along a predetermined route, allowing them to optimize their training efforts and be able to do it whenever fits best into their schedule. The ability to record the ride will also help in analysis of pedal stroke for efficiency and for identifying any behaviors that need correcting to improve form. Of course, a major drawback might be how long the batteries would be able to last as many longer rides can go for well beyond the battery life of most remote drones available to consumers today.

Obviously, for the casual or recreational rider, this is likely far too expensive and far too impractical a tool to really get much use, but for those who are serious about training, there seems to be potential in such an innovative approach and it could add some real flexibility to the training regimen. I could also see this being fun for motorcyclists as being able to capture video of a ride from several different angles would be a pretty unique way to improve cornering form as well.


Tags: bicycle, cycling, drones, fitness, innovation, motorcycle