iPhone app in development to fly UAVs
Boeing has teamed up with researchers at MIT to create a prototype application which allows someone to control a miniature UAV from an iPhone. Eventually, the technology may be applied to remotely control UAVs used by the US military in combat and reconnaissance missions.
Boeing, working alongside student researchers at MIT’s Humans and Automation Lab have successfully tested an iPhone application that uses the device’s touch interface to navigate a micro-UAV from across the country as part of a Boeing project called Micro Aerial Vehicle Visualization of Unexplored Environments, or MAV-VUE. The micro-UAV was flown over a baseball field on MIT’s campus while being controlled by a Boeing engineer, George Windsor, in a Boeing office building in Seattle, WA, some 3,000 miles away. The app itself is said to be very intuitive with the user controlling the micro-UAV as though it were a video game.
Per Boeing’s press release:
…the project is but a part of Boeing’s overall advanced R&D effort to assimilate new ideas and innovative processes that can benefit customers. In this case, the company is working with industry and university partners such as MIT to find and develop better, simpler ways for people to control UAVs. These applications could allow UAVs to be used more effectively for tasks that are dirty or dangerous, as well as for missions that may be too long and tedious to have a human be continuously at the controls.
“Imagine a soldier pulling a small, lightweight UAV out of a backpack, and then controlling it – without having to micromanage the flight behaviors of the vehicle – to see around an otherwise inaccessible spot on the battlefield,” said Joshua Downs, a human factors specialist with Boeing Research & Technology and the Boeing technical leader of the MAV-VUE project. “Or a firefighter seeking a better way to gauge how quickly a forest fire is spreading, or a rescue worker trying to more quickly find and help victims of tornadoes, earthquakes and other natural disasters. It is applications such as this that are helping to move the technology forward.
For more on the project and an accompanying video, see the company’s press release here.
Sources: Boeing, Information Week