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Augmented office chair provides hands-free drone control

Arduino TeamMay 29th, 2019

Multi-rotor drones are normally controlled using handheld devices, but what if you wanted to instead operate them with your whole body? Flight Chair, developed by researchers at Simon Fraser University in Canada, allows you to do just that, and is envisioned for use with emergency personnel observing a scene.

The chair is augmented with ultrasonic sensors to detect when a user leans forward, backward, left, and right, commanding the drone to do the same, while a gyroscopic sensor detects when the chair is swiveled to adjust its heading. 

Altitude adjustment is handled by a T-shaped foot panel, leaving one’s hands free to do other tasks. Sensor values are collected by an Arduino Mega, which passes this to a drone server over a USB connection.

In future, emergency services will increasingly use technology to assist emergency service dispatchers and call taker with information during an emergency situation. One example could be the use of drones for surveying an emergency situation and providing contextual knowledge to emergency service call takers and first responders. The challenge is that drones can be difficult for users to maneuver in order to see specific items. In this paper, we explore the idea of a drone being controlled by an emergency call taker using embodied interaction on a tangible chair. The interactive chair, called Flight Chair, allows call takers to perform hands-free control of a drone through body movements on the chair. These include tilting and turning of one’s body.

More details on the team’s prototype design be found in their research paper here


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