athletes · cycling · running

My own personal fitness drone?

I confess. I’m a gadget and data geek.  (See Data geekery and fitness.) I’m an early adopter and lover of all things techie. Right now I’m big fan of our new electric car and when it’s minus 34 with windchill with morning, I especially love the android app that lets me preheat it from my house.

There are few fitness toys I don’t like. But I’ve got to say, I’m a little leery of personal drones. I’ve been reading lots about their potential as fitness aids but I’m not convinced.

For sure they might make running safer for women. See The Drones of the Future Won’t Kill, They’ll Take Selfies.

The other concept the group settled on was Guardian Angel, a drone that’s billed as “the ultimate accessory for serious runners.” In addition to serving as a constant, hovering bodyguard on a solitary jog, the craft could also offer a number of novel fitness-related features.

It could zip ahead to set your pace, drawing on data from a heart rate monitor to figure out when you’re lagging and could be pushed to go a bit harder. It could also stand in as a proxy for your previous runs, kind of like the ghost drivers in Mario Kart—or even let you race against another drone-equipped friend remotely in real time.

drone photo with woman running

There’s also talk of coaching drones. Now, me, I love being yelled at while working out preferably by someone whose judgement about what I can do I know that I can trust. Susan’s guest post Or, Only When You are Watching  really resonated with me. But a coaching drone?

I read that some sports teams, the Marlins, for instance, are using drone with cameras for coaching purposes. For now, it’s just recording, not barking out orders but surely that can’t be far behind.

There’s also some enthusiasm for drones as companions on bike rides.

Bicycling Magazines declares that thanks to drones you might never have to ride alone again. See A Drone for Cyclists?.

The consulting firm Frog Design recently set out to create drone concepts for civilian use. Its “Cyclodrone” would allow cyclists to pedal by themselves while enjoying the visibility and security of group riding.

“This is sort of a way to ride in a pack when you don’t have a pack,” says product development director Cormac Eubanks, who designed the Cycledrone. “For solo cyclists who ride some of these windy roads with narrow visibility, I think it could definitely make riding safer.”

The design would incorporate two drones, one to fly in front of the bicycle and the second to fly in rear, to improve the visibility of the cyclist. The system would be equipped with a camera—“the original idea was to record accidents, but you could make a whole movie of your ride,” Eubanks says.


When it comes to technology, it’s not often I get to feel like an old grump, but this definitely brought out my inner old grouch. What about people? Isn’t it better to ride and to run with other people?

I worry that drone accompanied cyclists would miss out on lots of things, like how to ride in a group with other bikes, the need for hand signals, and reliable behavior when others are close to your rear wheel. (See Things you learn from working out with others.)

There’s also a bit of a worry about the ever increasing  gap between the rich and the poor. Rich runners and cyclists will have drones and others won’t.

What do you think? Will you be an early adopter of the personal fitness drones?