Pilot Drones using Torso not


Today, drones are typically flown with a controller, but Swiss researchers at EPFL have discovered that using your torso to control a drone is far more effective than using a joystick.

Developing new system to control a Drone

               Imagine piloting a drone using the movements of your torso only and leaving your head free to look around, much like a bird. EPFL research has just shown that using your torso to pilot flying machines is indeed more immersive—and more effective—than using the long-established joystick.

          “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.”

Movement of Torso

        “Torso really gives you the feeling that you are actually flying. Joysticks, on the other hand, are of simple design but mastering their use to precisely control distant objects can be challenging” says lead author Jenifer Miehlbradt of EPFL.The scientists wanted to observe how people use their bodies to pilot a flying object, in this case a drone, and determine which movements are most intuitive and natural—approaching the pilot problem from a completely new perspective.

Progress of Virtual environment

         With the goal of making drone flight more in tune with the human body, researchers started monitoring the body movements of 17 individuals by 19 markers placed all over the upper body as well as their muscular activity. Each participant followed the actions of a virtual drone through simulated landscapes that passed-by as viewed through virtual reality goggles.Motion patterns emerged and the scientists quickly established torso-related strategies for piloting drones: they found that only 4 markers—located on the torso—were needed to pilot flight simulators and real drones through a circuit of obstacles effectively.

Comparing Torso & Joysticks

Overall, the scientists compared their torso strategies to joystick control in 39 individuals. They found that torso drone control outperformed joystick control in precision, reliability. “Data analysis allowed us to develop a very simple and intuitive approach which could also be used with other populations, machines, and operations. The approach significantly improves the teleoperation of robots with non-human mechanical attributes,” says Silvestro Micera of the Bertarelli Foundation, which helped fund the research.

The proof-of-concept system still depends on body markers and external motion detectors to work, so the team’s next challenge will be making the tech wearable and completely independent. However, the ranges of applications for it are enormous. Being able to virtually fly while your head, limbs, hand and feet are free to perform other tasks could be a major development for gaming, drone control or even the planes of the future.

Author :Ramya Swetha Bandaru – HR Associate
Source : EPFL via Techexplore

Share This Information