Boeing and MIT have developed technology to control an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) from anywhere, as demonstrated this summer at Boeing’s Seattle research centre. The team was able to control a UAV over an athletic field 2500 miles away in Cambridge, Massachusetts, home of MIT:
Boeing engineer George Windsor sat in a small room at a Boeing building in Seattle and picked up an iPhone. After a short series of finger movements and taps, a miniature unmanned aircraft that’s about as big as a pizza box started to hover, turn and fly. In some cases, Windsor tapped on locations on a map on the iPhone, and the UAV went to that spot; in other instances, Windsor moved the phone up, down, left and right, and the vehicle moved accordingly.
MIT associate professor of aeronautics and astronautics, Mary Cummings, describes the app is so easy even an inexperienced person could fly the plane immediately, as opposed to undergoing months of training like soldiers that learn how to fly regular UAVs. She mentions the controls are so easy, in theory the app created could control any aircraft, even a jumbo jet. The uses for an easier system to control UAVs could be used for emergency situations by workers looking to avoid dangerous environments. This technology reminds me of the Parrot AR.Drone quadricopter and its intuitive use of the iPhone as a controller.
Check out the video here from Boeing demonstrating the app. Looks like one day, we’ll all be able to fly planes with our iPhones.