Traditionally, drones are controlled by a handheld transmitter, with one stick to “slide” the craft forward, backward, left, and right, while a second handles altitude and the direction that it’s facing. What if instead of a handheld controller, the pilot used his or her whole body to steer the craft?
That’s the idea behind Flight Chair, a sensor augmented desk chair envisioned for use with emergency services. To fly with this “controller,” users sit on the chair and lean in the direction they wish for the drone to travel. This body movement is then picked up by an array of ultrasonic sensors, which transmit information to a drone control server via an Arduino Mega. Rotation is controlled by a gyro sensor that picks up on how the chair rotates, turning the drone in response, and a foot pedal assembly is used to command changes in altitude.
Given the tenancy to lean into the direction that you want a vehicle to go, this seems like it would be a useful control method for those who aren’t experts in flying drones. The fact that it leaves your hands free could be even more important, and would allow emergency operators to perform other tasks, while gaining situational awareness by literally leaning into the scene. More information on the project is available in the research paper here.