Muscle activity turned into commands for the drone

American engineers have created a wearable controller that reads the muscle activity and hand movements, and turns them into commands for the drone. The controller consists of two pairs of electrodes fixed over the biceps and triceps, as well as the electrode of the bracelet worn on the forearm. One of the main achievements of the design is that the device does not require calibration for each specific user, say the authors of the articlepresented at the conference HCI 2020.

Engineers have been suggesting to control the drones with gestures, because it is more intuitive than turning the sticks on the controller in different directions. In some serial drones has some support for gestures, but it is quite limited and is based on the camera, so in dark or at a distance this way to apply is almost impossible. Research projects often used different visual method of tracking body movement or hand — using infrared markers and cameras around the perimeter of the room. This gives a very high accuracy and low latency measurements, but ties the user and the drone to a specific room, so in practice such systems are not applicable.

Because of these constraints the most promising look wearable device to track hand movements. They can track the gestures on the readings of accelerometer and gyroscope, but the accuracy of their work may decline when they are dealing with multiple gestures in a row or fuzzy motion. Researchers from the Massachusetts Institute of technology Joseph Delprete (Joseph DelPreto) and Daniela Rus (Daniela Rus) used in your project even more direct information about the gestures and activity of human muscle.

The device uses a non-invasive method of electromyography, in which electrodes are not implanted in muscle, but are placed on the skin and measure the electrical potential that arises upon excitation of the muscle cells. Engineers have used three types of muscles. On the shoulder there are two pairs of electrodes: one measures the activity in the field of short head of two-headed muscle, and the second in the area of the long head of the triceps. Another set of electrodes in the form of a bracelet is the forearm near the elbow.

The operator can control the drone’s four types of gestures: to move forward you need to make a fist, to stop it you need to stretch the muscles of the shoulder, rotate fist allows you to move the drone in that direction, and for rotation about the vertical axis responds to rotation of the fist.

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