Drones are usually flown using a remote control. While most drone operators are able to control drones easily, there have been many complaints where some people find it too hard or even impossible to control and operate drones. This can be a problem since the chances of a drone surviving a crash are minimal, not to mention the damage a drone crash can cause to both property or people. In an effort to make drone flying easier, Swiss researchers from Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Laussane now claim they have invented a better way to control drones by using the human body.
The EPFL researchers designed a system which relies on the human torso as opposed to using a joystick to control drones. The main advantage of this system is that it will leave the pilot’s head free to look around while flying. According to one of the inventors, Jenifer Miehlbradt, the aim of the group was to come up with a control method that would be easy for people to learn and one that requires less mental focus.
With the aim of making drone piloting more in tune with our body, the researchers instructed 17 test subjects to mimic how a drone flies through the air. All participants wore virtual reality goggles that showed a drones first person point of view. The researchers used 19 separate infrared markers placed on the test subjects’ upper bodies to monitor their actions and soon enough, the researchers noticed a pattern. Only the markers on the torso were being used consistently. This meant that the test subjects were able to operate their drones through real world and virtual obstacle courses using just their torso.
Further testing led the researchers to compare the human torso control versus a joystick controller on 39 test subjects. Even with minimal training sessions, the torso drone control method outperformed the joystick control in reliability and precision as it seemed more instinctive. We can expect researchers to use this information to help create new ways to pilot drones.