Look Ma No Hands Pilot Drones With Just Your Torso

first_imgStay on target This Robot Is Equal Parts Lawnmower and Snow BlowerWatch: Drone Captures Incredible View of Sheep on Colorado Peak Drones are in, but joysticks are out.Scientists at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) have developed a modern, intuitive way to pilot unmanned aerial vehicles—using your torso.Perhaps a little odd to watch, the immersive—and seemingly effective—process leaves your head free to look around, “much like a bird,” according to the research institute.“Our aim was to design a control method which would be easy to learn and therefore require less mental focus from the users so that they can focus on more important issues, like search and rescue,” Jenifer Miehlbradt, of EPFL’s Translational Neuroengineering Laboratory, said in a statement.“Using your torso really gives you the feeling that you are actually flying,” she continued. “Joysticks, on the other hand, are of simple design but mastering their use to precisely control distant objects can be challenging.”(Not for children of the 1970s, ’80s, and ’90s, who grew up on television, computer, and arcade games.)The team placed infrared markers across the upper body of 17 willing participants, monitoring movement and muscle activity during simulated drone flights.As patterns emerged, researchers realized only the four markers on the torso were necessary—in flight simulators and real-world obstacle courses.Not only did the human body outperform joystick control in precision and reliability, but it required minimal training sessions, meaning anyone can jump into the hot seat if necessary.“Data analysis allowed us to develop a very simple and intuitive approach which could also be used with other populations, machines, and operations,” Bertarelli Foundation Chair Silvestro Micera said. “The approach significantly improves the teleoperation of robots with non-human mechanical attributes.”Moving forward, researchers are working to make their torso strategy completely wearable—something like the Fly Jacket, developed by Carine Rognon, a researcher at EPFL’s Laboratory of Intelligent Systems.The lightweight garment translates the torso strategy into control commands, without external motion detectors; it allows pilots to control a drone intuitively by leaning forward or backward, and pivoting their upper body.“The Fly Jacket not only produces an immersive and intuitive flight control experience, but also frees the human hands for other tasks,” co-author Dario Floreano, head of the Laboratory of Intelligence Systems, said. “This could be very useful for firefighters or rescuers to quickly and precisely identify locations where help is needed.”Results of EPFL’s study were published in this week’s issue of PNAS.For a full round-up of affordable drone visits our page here. Let us know what you like about Geek by taking our survey.last_img read more