October 29th, 2015









While NASA is working to make drones quieter, one researcher at the University of Nevada, Reno, is using its noise to benefit blind athletes.

Eelke Folmer, an associate professor of computer science and the head of UNR’s Human Plus Lab, has built a prototype drone system that guides blind runners around a track, allowing them to exercise independently without a sighted guide. Equipped with two cameras—a downward-facing one that follows the lines on a track and a separate camera that focuses on a marker on the runner’s shirt—Folmer’s quadcopter flies at eye level, about 10 feet ahead of a runner, guiding them by sound. If the runner speeds up or slows down, the drone adjusts its own speed.

Folmer says he hasn’t been able to test it outdoors yet because the university is so close to the Reno airport it is subject to FAA regulations on drones. He is currently seeking permission from the airport’s radio tower to override this rule.

To read more of Christina Couch's article please visit: TechnologyReview.com