Control a drone with a Smart Glove and FlyJacket exosuit

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Got that? Well slip on the FlyJacket exosuit and you’ll be able to control a flying drone with your body movements. What could be more intuitive?

The getup includes a smart glove, the FlyJacket itself and some arm supports for further control.

Courtesy of the glove, you press the index and middle fingers against the thumb to initiate take off. And you can press the middle finger against the thumb to set a point of interest on the associated map covering the drone’s flight.

It’s all part of the work of swiss researchers looking to make drone control less demanding for long operations.

Sensorised upper-body
The team, from Ecole Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne (EPFL) and lead by Carine Rognon, describes the system:

It consists of a sensorised upper-body soft exoskeleton, coupled with virtual reality or first-person view goggles, that maps torso movements into control instructions for a fixed-wing drone flying at a constant speed and equipped with a frontal camera.

The exosuit, which we call FlyJacket, is equipped with unobtrusive and removable arm supports, which allow users to fly with their arms spread out without experiencing fatigue. This jacket integrates sensors for body motion detection and can easily fit into a backpack for rapid deployment in diverse situations, such as rescue missions, inspection, or personal leisure.

All very impressive, but I’m not quite sure what to make of this. On the one hand what more immersive and interactive experience could you have for controlling a drone?

On the other, what’s really wrong with a more detached, manual control of joysticks and levers. If it becomes too demanding someone else should take over, for serious operation. But interesting nonetheless.

Robotics and Automation
The research was published in the 28 February 2018 edition of IEEE Robotics and Automation Letters.

The team summarises:

The use of joysticks or remote controllers for drone teleoperation is a non-intuitive and challenging task, which becomes cognitively demanding during long-term operations.

The development of more intuitive control interfaces could improve flight efficiency, reduce errors, and allow users to shift their attention from the task of control to the evaluation of the information provided by the drone.


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