There’s normal lazy, and then there’s sit-on-a-chair-to-control-a-drone lazy. If piloting a simple rotor drone with a handheld controller seems too taxing for you, researchers from the Simon Fraser University in Canada have you covered with an office chair they’ve converted into a bonafide pressure-sensing drone controller.
Flight Chair, as they are calling it, was created with the task of aiding people working on and in emergency situations. Whenever a big calamity like a fire, flash flood, or Black Friday shopping spree occurs, having an eye in the sky can help provide information regarding the situation. While any reasonable person would make use of a helicopter or drone with a handheld controller, these particular researchers hope Flight Chair will make maneuvering through these delicate scenarios a lot easier.
Ultrasonic sensors placed all around the office chair detect even the slightest moments from the person sitting on it. All the “sit-controller” has to do is lean in the direction they want to go, and the drone will follow suit.
Changes in direction are handled similarly: if the controller wants it to face somewhere else, all he/she has to do is swivel the chair around, and a gyroscopic sensor will adjust the drone according to the Flight Chair’s input response.
As for how the Flight Chair adjusts altitude, it isn’t using the chair’s height adjusting lever. Instead, a T-shaped metal panel is placed near the person’s feet so they can increase or decrease their altitude by stepping on it.
All the sensor data, from the ultrasonic sensors to the gyroscopic detector to the T-shaped metal panel, are collated by an Arduino Mega 2560 microcontroller which passes the information via USB connection to the drone.
While for some, it may be difficult to imagine how controlling a drone via a modified office chair (hands-free, no less) can be more precise than using a handheld device, but it could open up new doors for accessibility in certain users. Either way, the concept is unique and is sure to please drone enthusiasts with hand pain and lumbar problems. You can read the entire research paper for the Flight Chair here.