Scooters on Treadmills – a blog. Week 1

A funded UG student summer internship project

The ‘Scooters on treadmills’ project was conceived at the November 2021 Future Human Sandpit event, and subsequently received some seedcorn funding from Future Human to support the work. Led by Dr Sam Smith and Dr Katrina Taylor, the project has been further supported by the Summer Vacation Research Competition, which is providing funding for UG students to help collect data for this project over the summer. These UG students are writing a blog of their experience on the project. The first is written by Rushil Boorgula.

They say time flies when you are enjoying yourself. And that most likely explains how this week has gone by so quickly! This week was the start of my research internship with Katrina Taylor and Sam Smith on the topic of “Exploring Physiological Responses to the Use Of E-scooters.” An interesting and exciting topic, in my opinion. It has been a wonderful start to the internship, with so much learnt.
On our first day, we were given a list of tasks to do to develop our understanding of the project, one of which was to look at studies that might concern our research. This is when I realised the vast number of overarching themes there were relating to our project. There were environmental, physiological, public health and even economic aspects. This gave me an insight into how much scope there could be for the research that we were going to conduct. Later in the day, I met with Katrina and Sam to discuss what it was that I was looking to get out of this experience and how they might help me approach it. At the end of the day, it was just exciting to know that I was finally starting the project that I had waited so long for.
In the next few days, we were introduced to the equipment that we would be using during the research project. It was a lot to take in, especially since a lot of the equipment was unfamiliar to me. Using the Metalyser for the first time was a bit daunting but Katrina and Sam made sure that we fully understood each part of the procedure needed to use it properly. I also had a chance to test out the method of research myself, wherein we put the E scooter on the treadmill and made it run. I was lucky enough to have a go at it. And I now know that maintaining balance on an E scooter at low speeds is much harder than it looks! I feel as though it was an experience that was necessary, as it allowed me to step into the shoes of the participants of the study. It made me more aware of the risks involved as well as areas that could marginally be improved in the process (e.g., Giving the participants a chance to decide which is their leading foot on the scooter so that they are as comfortable as possible).
On the last day, we decided to have a comprehensive run through of our procedure so that we could garner the confidence needed to start running the tests officially. I think going through the whole process made me appreciate how many aspects of a project there are to consider, and it taught me that the key to getting work done is to collaborate as that way you get many different perspectives. During the pilot testing, I realised that there were a lot of issues that could come up that I had previously not thought about. This made me understand that the best way to maximise your chances of success was to plan ahead as much as possible to allow for sufficient time to iron out any issues that could come up. We actually did in fact have an issue where the Treadmill, one of the main pieces of equipment for our project, stopped working. However, this did not stop us as we still went through the procedure as though it was working.
So far, this week has been great, and I have learnt so much more than I was expecting to. I can’t wait for next week!