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This summer at my holiday resort, my trainer will be a robot

R-Tourisme Chronicles

The incredible development of robotics has given way to various applications in tourism. I already spoke about robots in providing services, especially in terms of hosting and reception. Today, let me make a few projections on robotics in sports activities while on vacation, by basing myself on the latest researches and developments in the world of sports and robotics.

Rédigé par Sophie Lacour translated by Joséphine Foucher le Vendredi 20 Février 2015

In fact, various robots are already training professional athletes. The Borussia Dortmund, a German soccer team, uses the services of a training robot since 2012.

Called Footbonaut, developed by the Cgoal company, this robot helps players be more precise and faster.

The player enters a circular room, surrounded by a wall on which there are 72 target zones, and launching robots that send him balloons that he has to hit as best he can.

The player controls the ball and sends it back to one of the targets to hit as signaled by the robot. Also in the world of soccer, a Japanese television channel offered Lionel Messi to play against a robot goal keeper.

These structures could easily be useful in a resort.

Soccer isn’t the only sport in which we kind find these types of robots. They also exist in the world of tennis where players already train with robots that throw balls.

But also in rugby, where for example, a simulator of scrum developed by Thales, enables any “pack” to train and improve its performances. This simulator, a type of giant spider, can realistically reproduce a scrum.

Equipped with captors that analyze, in real time, the pushes and movements of the players, the robot can recreate an infinite amount of behaviors.

It could be used during vacations when we begin different sports, such a rugby for example.

In fact, the robot can also be controlled through the help of a joystick, we can then easily imagine a sports guide using it to make you experience the very real sensations of a game.

Customized training with a drone

Drones could also be used for athletic vacations.

For example, while jogging. You’ll set up the drone with a smartphone application, to the speed and height of your choice, and it would follow you everywhere, filming you and registering your performance.

Just its presence will stimulate you, and will encourage you to push yourself. These drones could be made available by resorts, or vacation clubs, to provide you with personalized training.

Finally, there are also robots to play more simple collective games. Students of EPFL (The Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne) have established a robot capable of playing Babyfoot.

At first, it’s just your average Babyfoot, except that the defense handle is robotized. It is controlled by two computers that direct it and follow the position of the ball in real time.

It is capable of sending the ball at a speed of 6 meters by second! An incredible hitting force.

Entertainment for raining days, accessible to all, with an efficient adversary always ready for a game.

Robots in leisure sports activities

So we get it now, it would be easily possible to transpose this professional situation of the robots in leisure sports activities.

But, despite the smart aspect of robots, a very particular characteristic has called my attention, and led me to think that this type of equipment will develop in tourism.

The robot that plays ping-pong, that you saw many times on the Internet, has interesting characteristics in the case of the interaction between man and machine: it can adapt to its humain adversary.

It was developed in the case of the Omron works on detection and control technology, for a harmonization of the man/machine relations. It was thought not to fight the ping-pong champions, but on the contrary to be able to have long exchanges with the human adversary.

While playing ping-pong, it is constantly looking to adapt to its human partner.

To do so, it predicts the trajectory and speed of the ball by basing himself on the physical movement of his adversary and the position of the ball.

Then, the robot calculates the required power to send back the ball to a spot that will enable the other player to return it easily. It does it at the same speed at which the ball was sent.

The robot that adapts to the human erases the unbeatable aspect of the robot, that is inevitably faster and more specific and can be stressful in the case of leisure activities.

Professional athletes need a robot that pushes their limits, but that’s not necessary for vacationers.

With this type of robot, you can play ping pong at ease while having fun, without the pressure of competition.

An a great option for children, elders or any person looking for a relaxed game.

Types of sports trainers

© artenot -
© artenot -
Thus, following the same model of the robot ping pong, the developed robots in the sense of collaboration can be companions of fun games that are not stressful for amateurs athletes and tourists.

Within vacation centers, resorts, sports clubs, robots could become animations, or types of sports trainers that would enable to practice a physical activity, but they would be empathetic and infinitely tolerant if you missed a shot.

These robots could also be more gratifying as they are programmed to let you win from time to time.

With their nice smiles, they won’t be phased by your athletic successes/ or failures. We’ll add to that a little program so they can call you by your name and tell you phrases like “Well done Kevin, you’ve made progress since yesterday,” we’ll find these training robots quite useful.

These empathetic and fun robots will offer a simple and efficient approach to practice a physical activity, and will add a new face to the robotic experience in tourism.

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