Episode 64 – Drones & Robotics in PE

In episode 64 of The PE Geek Podcast I discuss one of the most disruptive emerging technologies we’re likely to see in the coming years. Robotics and in particular Drones have been exploding recently with their use becoming possible in industries and situations we could of only dreamt about in the past. During the episode I explore the opportunities that these technologies will provide to schools and in particular the PhysEd classroom.

Resources for this episode include;

  1. Top 10 Reasons Drones are Disruptive
  2. Drones & Technology Convergence
  3. Lily.Camera & GetHover
  4. Parrot Drone
  5. 17 Cheap Drones for Beginners

Press play to listen to the episode below. Alternatively, download a full episode transcript here


00:29 JR: Hello everyone. Welcome to episode number 64 of the PE podcast. And as always, it’s an absolute pleasure to be here now. In today’s episode, we’re gonna be talking all about robotics and drone technology and the opportunities that they enable in a PE space and in education in general. And we’re gonna be looking at where they’ve come from and where they’re going to be progressing towards as we start to see them become ultimately more powerful, more affordable, and just full of so many different opportunities that every different industry is gonna see disrupt their space.

01:10 JR: So, I love this topic, I love what it means for the development of robotics and useful assistive technologies. And I’m really excited to dive into where I think it’s at at this point in time. Now, this is a bit of a rare episode in that it is an episode that we’re recording pretty much right in the week that we’re releasing it in, and that’s quite rare. I’m a massive fan of batching. I batch everything that I possibly can. It’s a lesson that so many people could get benefit from. And that is I sit down and I record five to 10 episodes in one go and then release them out over period of time. And I’ve done that for all of the episodes up to episode 72 that already recorded, but for whatever reason, I forgot to do episode 64 even though it was already planned and ready to go. So, bit of a rare space here, excited to dive in today’s content, so let’s get into it.

02:05 JR: Now, for many people, when you say the word drones, the first thing that comes to mind is sort of the military industrial complex of robotic flying machines targeting terrorists and all sorts of things of that nature. And for the big part of the history of drone technology, that’s where it sort of was. And however, over the many years, we’ve seen that technology filter down into a whole swag of different industries and become this enormously disruptive technology which talks about all the convergence of so many other different fields coming together. If you’ve listened to episode 60, you would’ve heard me talk at length about the different technologies that are progressing. But drone technology is one of them.

02:57  JR: And it’s sorta the convergence of things such as optical technologies, and GPS, and artificial intelligence, and so on. And all of those things combined and the fact the they are now so affordable, is really making it possible for these things to be really quite cheap. And by cheap, we’re actually seeing now that drones which in the years gone by, with thousands upon thousands and even before that when they were just sorta coming out and being used by military, we’re talking multi-millions of dollars. But now, you can pick up drones for less than a hundred dollars that have in them the ability to record, to communicate with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth to people really quite easily. So, the possibilities are quite vast.

03:44  JR: And today, the top ten sorta uses for drones, in all sorts of industries such as agriculture. You’ve got the ability for drones to be able to fly over and do real-time data on the crop health and yield. And you just imagine how much data that could provide for people to be able to farm more sustainably. The ability for emergency people to respond to situations such as fires and… I saw recently a drone flying over and dropping a buoyant aid for someone who was drowning on the beach. And because obviously the drone could get there much faster than the person, it sped up the chance of them being safely recovered. We’ve also got people like Amazon going down and looking at delivery through drone technology so that your goods can be delivered via the air faster than, obviously, they can through land.

04:44 JR: And then we’ve got all sorts of industries such as the documentary industry, that are going about and getting this amazing footage of different things that we just couldn’t do before without sort of helicopters and things of that nature. But now, the average person has at their disposal some technology which is affordable which makes it possible for these sorts of things to progress.

05:07  JR: So, what we’ve seen with drones over the last few years is that they’ve gone from being something that a person has to control where they are fully fixated on it being at a certain point in time. And we’ve seen it progress to becoming much more autonomous so that they sort of have a mind of their own. They’re thinking, they’re doing, they’re navigating, they’re avoiding, they’re seeking out things faced and transmitting that back to whoever it is that has set them up. And not only have they become more smarter and more autonomous, but they’ve become much more affordable. And they’ve got full HD video inside of them and it’s likely that we’re going to be able to see drone technology as accessible and as cheap as $10, even less.

05:58  JR: And that is quite astounding and it leads to this whole idea of where could it go from here. And it’s no sort of surprise that it’s already being used in lots of different industries as I mentioned before. But the opportunities for drone technology are quite extensive in every single industry, and that’s exciting. It’s really quite exciting when you think about the impact that that has. And I think back to when I was in Africa recently and I’m trying to organise some delivery of goods to a place where I was visiting. And it’s been one of the most difficult things to do because the shipping and traditional postage arrangement is really quite outdated.

06:47 JR: But you think about what drones can then do for places like that where they just sort of don’t have the roads and infrastructure for traditional shipping and freight but they could absolutely leverage drones to be able to get goods between people and disperse wealth quite well. So, I love the impact that it’s having in those fields and where it’s headed, but the thing that has got me really excited at the moment is where it’s sorta going now and what we can do with it at this point in time right now in a PE space. And this episode’s gonna dive into sorta what are the opportunities, what can you get your hands on now and use to get some value with? And then, sort of thinking in mind as to where that will progress.

07:32 JR: Now, one of the very first situations I ever saw a drone being used by a school was in an advocacy type situation. And what that meant was they were using a drone and they picked up a Parrot drone, which you can head along to the internet and search for or check the episode show notes for links to the Parrot Product Range. But they found a Parrot and they were flying it, which is basically a drone that you control and your iPad sorta… You can see what’s on the screen of the drone on your iPad. And they were flying it around different areas of the PE program and school and so on from a top down perspective and getting this really impressive footage that they could then use and show to people who wanted to know more about the PE program.

08:20 JR: And it changed the entire game in terms of being able to communicate that. So rather than just having your standard run of the mill pictures of your PE program to advocate for… Or to your principal or to prospective new students, they have this amazing top down footage of students in action. Now, the same thing could be said for if you are completing camps or excursion with your students and you can imagine having students go out and doing something like kayaking or scuba diving or whatever, and mountain bike riding. And you have a drone flying over the top of that and capturing this amazing footage of that thing happening as it happens.

09:05 JR: A whole different perspective than you standing there and trying to get these photos that are sort of not that well taken and just it being a bit of a mess. So, looking at it from that advocacy point of view there’s a lot of opportunity for capturing this sort of footage from a top down perspective and using it to promote what’s happening in your school or practice or in your PE program and then sort of sharing that with parents and staff and other interested parties. Now, I did see this being used at a sports day, as well. A field day, and they were capturing this incredible footage that they could share.

09:42 JR: I thought that was a tremendous example of how you could use a drone technology in a really simple way without really having to do much in the way of planning or thinking about how you can ingrate it into your lessons. Now, if you want to get access to a drone for a really affordable price, then have a look at the episode show notes at the pegeek.com/64. We’ve linked to 17 of the cheapest drones that you can get for beginners under the sorta $150 price range. And obviously, lots of them have different varying features. The more expensive you go the more that’s included, but a standard drone will enable you to control it and fly it and will enable you to do some sort of video recording most likely through an SD camera which is on the drone itself.

10:34 JR: The more expensive versions enable you to have the video footage being recorded sent to an external device either by Wi-Fi or another sort of streaming technology. So, a lot of opportunities exist in that advocacy role, but what I’m interested in sharing with you is how you could use it to teach game sense strategies. Now, imagine that you’re sitting and you’re teaching a touch rugby unit or ultimate Frisbee unit and you’re trying to help students understand the varying tactics or strategies that exist within that game.

11:11 JR: Now, sure it would make sense to sit down on the ground and talk through the different strategies with students, that makes a lot of sense as well. I don’t necessarily think you shouldn’t do that. But what would be super great is if you could also have a drone to be flying over the top of that game and capturing a top down footage, and being able to use that footage to help communicate what’s happening to your students or with your students in a completely different way. Now, if you were in, let’s say, an environment where you had an external screen or projector and that drone was being mirrored… So, as in the video footage was being mirrored to an external screen then you could potentially see a top-down footage but not necessarily have to look anywhere other than just to the screen on the side of the gymnasium.

12:02 JR: Now the very first time that I ever did this was in a basketball situation we had, a basketball lunchtime practice taking place and we had a drone flying over the top of that situation and the footage was being captured from a top-down and it was mirrored to my iPad, and my iPad was then being shown up onto the live screen. And what it meant was that we could stop play and direct students to the screen just standing in the spot where they were and they could absolutely see what was taking place from that top-down, and it changed the game of our tactics and understanding and on all of those sorts of things. So, if you’re involved in coaching or sports sort of game situations and you wanna dive a bit deeper with older students then I recommend that you think about getting a drone. You can pick them up so cheap and you could get a completely different discussion about where players should move to and what they should do to sort of help them in that sport. Now the reason I’m so excited about this recently has been because of the upcoming developments that I have been following in the space. Now at this point as I’ve mentioned a numerous times now, you can pick up drones that have some limited feature set that will do an incredible job to capture video footage, but we’re starting to see these opportunities just become even more extreme. So, the best example of the drone tech that I’m so excited about now is the Lily camera.

13:36 JR: Now the Lily camera is still on preorder, it hasn’t officially been released as of recording here in August 2016, but if you head along to lily.camera, you can see a video of how it works, and I show these in all of the PE workshops as a bit of a taste test of where this is headed. Basically, you wear, or whoever wants to, wears a tiny little tracking device on their wrist and wherever you go the drone goes. So that means that while you’re performing any sort of activity or game or you’re immersed in some sort of outdoor recreational pursuit, the drone follows you. Now in the video that they show, they’ve got a video footage of people snowboarding and skiing and kayaking and the drone following to capture that. So you can imagine a situation in the near future where a student could be necessarily wearing something like that where they have the ability to be tracked and that could be captured and used for all sorts of different reasons. Now, there’s a couple of things that we still have to wait for, for that to be a reality on scale, and that would be drones continue to become cheaper and more affordable. They are absolutely doing that at this present point in time, but we gotta reach a point where they become even more affordable and they become even more smaller and easier to get out into the environment. And yeah, they need to become more feature rich and be able to support situations where we could use them in numbers.

15:13 JR: Now, I know at this point a lot of people usually ask me about rules and regulations related to drone use. And to be honest, it’s something that you have to check; you’re gonna have to find out whether it’s something that you school will allow you to use. I’m not saying that it is something that every school will be able to use, but it’s something that you should find out. Don’t just assume that you can bring a drone into your school, throw it up and someone isn’t going to think that that’s something that you should have got permission for first. So, I would definitely encourage you to go ahead and do that. And the other thing that I’ll also encourage you to think about is there are some places in towns and cities where you just cannot use them. And obviously airports and things like that, you just can’t use them.

15:55 JR: So if your school is near one of those, then make sure that you’re not gonna be flying it into a situation where they could be damaged or where you could create some serious harm for other people, but to the vast majority of people, they are absolutely going to provide you with a lot of opportunity, they’re gonna help capture things in ways that you’ve never seen before, and it’s gonna be great. And I heard recently that eventually drones are gonna get to the point where they’re just not really a threat in terms of they’ll be so small, their power consumption will be so small, that their impact isn’t gonna be noticeable and they won’t need to be as regulated as they are sort of at this point in time.

16:40 JR: So, lots of things still on the pipeline. However, with that being said, there’s a lot of opportunity now. I certainly encourage you to head along to the episode notes and have a look for some of the links that I’ve included to where drone technology is headed, as well as some of the recommended devices that you could get access to, including the Lily device and another device called the Hover Camera, which is a self flying drone for less than $100 that face tracks the user, just using the camera. So, there’s so many things coming in the pipeline, I’m excited about where it’s headed. We’re still not quite there yet, but with that being said, there are lots of schools and there are already PE programs and sports coaches who are leveraging drone technology because of the impact that it has in today’s day and age. So, with that being said, hopefully you’ve enjoyed today’s episode. As always, you can get a full list of resources as well as a complete word-for-word transcript over at the website thepegeek.com/64, as in episode 64. And until next time, speak soon and I look forward to seeing you in episode 65.


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