Engineering, Analysis and Design

Monday, May 20, 2024

What about having a Robot Trainer?

In a new study from ETH Zurich in Switzerland, robots successfully taught humans how to row, demonstrating how robotic personal trainers could be used in the future. 

Georg Rauter, lead author of study that published in Science Robotics, tells ZDNet, “Especially for the large number of hobby athletes that cannot afford professional 1-to-1 training sessions, future possibilities to rent time in robotic gyms could be of great interest to train more effectively.”

In the study, participants with no prior rowing experience practiced using rowing simulator. While the participants were rowing, the robotic trainer performed data analysis online in real time. When a participant messed up, such as moving the oar the wrong way, the robot immediately called attention to the error, either visually, with sounds, or through haptic (touch) feedback. 

The rowing simulation included splashing sounds and images of water.

Prior to this study, other researchers have also experimented with robots in sports training for golf, tennis, ping pong, volleyball, boxing, and skiing. Unfortunately, robotic technology and hardware are currently too expensive for widespread adoption of robotic trainers.

“Nevertheless, similar to the boom observed in virtual reality hardware and applications of the last years, a boom for robotics might help to make robotic trainers available to the general public,” says Rauter.

The promising results of ETH Zurich rowing study help prove that robots can be helpful for teaching skills that involve motor skills.

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