A Robotics Gymnast Coach, Is It Feasible With Today’s Technology?


While watching the 2012 Olympics in London on NBC I was wowed by the performance of the US and Chinese athletes in diving and gymnastics, along with the freeze frame shots of the dives, vaults, and floor exercises. It occurred to me that we could easily design a computerized robotic coach which would analyze, judge, and grade not only events, but also work as a coach in practice offering strategic advice to help the athletes better themselves, and I hate to say it, but the robotic system I am envisioning would be even better than the human eye, or a human coach. Let’s talk.

You see, there was an interesting piece in the Wall Street Journal recently titled; “My Life as a Telecommuting Robot – Meet QB-82, A Skinny Robot With Bad Wi-Fi Problem, Testing the Boundaries of Remote Worker” by Rachel Emma Silverman published on August 8, 2012. Okay so, go to Google Images and search “QB-82 Robot” and then come back to this article if you will.

Now then, can you see how a robot like this could work autonomously, collecting video, analyzing the athletes in practice. All the video would be downloaded to the cloud for later review by the athlete. Once the athlete made perfect scores on various dives or gymnastics routines, let’s say 10 in a row, then they’d be able to advance to the next set of tougher routines. The robotic system could play back in freeze frames, explaining to the athlete where they went wrong, based on position recognition, head angle, and how their feet, hands, and body were placed each step of the way.

Okay so, what if we had one of these robots in every single high school in the country, or every gymnast school, ballet school, diving school, and at specialty summer camps? We’d have an Olympic team which would sweep every event from figure skating to ski jumping, and from archery to pole vault. Why wouldn’t we invest in this? We’d keep the computer scientists busy on worthy applied science projects, and help anyone and everyone who wanted to excel in their sport the tools they need to up the ante and take it up a few notches.

Imagine the USA winning all the gold medals even though our nation only has 325 million people to China’s 1.4 billion citizens to choose from? I’d say that would make a huge statement for team USA. Let’s make it happen! Indeed, I ask that you please consider all this and think on it.


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