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To drive a drone we just need our own body

Goodbye to joysticks and remote controllers, soon to drive a drone we will just need our own body. The drone wil follow the movements of the torso and for the pilot it will be as to fly for real.

The researchers

The new technology is been presented to the magazine PNAS (Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America). The article explains the innovation realized by the laboratory of Translational Neuro-engeneering of the Polytechnic of Losanna (Switzerland), managed by Silvestro Micera, of the BioRobotics’ Institute of the Sant’Anna high school of Pisa. The research’s coordinator Jennifer Miehlbradt explained that the main purpose was the one to realize an easy and intuitive controll’s system, that leave space to all the other important operations, like the research and rescue ones. Use our own body, infact, is like flying, while using a joystick isn’t so intuitive and often can be an obstacle.

The first tests

The team made some tests on 39 persons, by demonstrating like this kind of flight can be more reliable and precise compared with the old joystick. The drone’s controll is fully focused on the torso’s movements, leaving the other body’s parts, like arms, legs, hands, feet and head, free to move and to make other operations. The 39 lucky that firstly tryed this new technology were immersed in a simulated scenario thanks to the virtual reality, driving a virtual drone and having the feeling to fly. Brilliantly passed even the tests with the real drones, which were successful drived through an obstacle course, with an accurancy unmatchable by the normal controllers. To the persons that tryed this experience were fixed 19 markers for the remote controll of the drone, and the results were astonishing, because resulted to be enough only 4 of the 19 markers to guarantee an efficient and precise controll already higher than the normal remote controllers. Now the next step is the one to make this technology fully wearable, but the step from here to a commercialisation of the new flight’s system is short.

The first jacket to fly

Like we said the next step is the one to make this technology fully wearable even if to be onest a first prototype of jacket is been already realized. It is the Fly Jacket by Carine Rognon, researcher in the smart system’s laboratory of the EPFL. Rognon created a light and easy jacket to give a concrete life at the technology realized by the Miehlbradt’s team. For the moment the jacket has a support for the arms so to keep them open as wings without to tire them too much. Even though this the purpose is the one to fully unhook the arms so to let them make other important operations. Furthemore the pilots are equipped with a viewer linked to the drone’s cameras to let them hover in the sky. The thing that this technology gives is something really close to the dream to fly for real.

Goodbye joystick

The creators of this new technology predicted in the future to say goodbye to the old joystick for the remote controll of the drones. Even though the joysticks are really easier and cheaper to design and realize the efficiency and the precision that the remote controll with our own body gives is unmatchable. Drive a drone will became easier and less challenging, by guaranteeing to the pilot to meanly focusing on other operations like the research, the rescue, the assistance. Control the drone with our own body and look through the viewers linked to the camera, won’t give the feeling to drive the drone, but to be the drone itself. The advantages are numerous and the whole team is hopeful to see soon the spreading of their creation in the many fields of usage of the drones, bringing us flying on the wings of the future.

This post is also available in: Italiano

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