Aldo is a friend of mine. 33 years old, he is on a wheel-chair since 2004 after a serious motorcycle accident. Aldo is very active and clever; with his hi-tech wheel- chair controlled by a mouth operated joystick he is able to drive the wheel-chair itself and to control tv, Personal Computer, Tablet, etc.
Aldo is very fond of flying objects and he was willing to try RC. We tried several solutions for mouth operated RC control without any success.
Recently, thanks to
- bluetooth integration in his "Wheel-chair control board" to control an Android tablet
- new Arducopter versions on APM (thanks dev team!)
- new Ardupilot version with virtual joysticks on tablet (thanks Kevin!)
we found a solution that seems to work pretty well.
In order to test AldoCopter solution we used
- DIY 450 quadricopter with APM control board and Arducopter 3.1
- a traditional RC radio control for tutoring and emergency control - 3DRradio 433mhz link
- Samsung Galaxy Tab (USB OTG cable) and Andropilot 1.9.3 (with virtual joysticks)
- bluetooth link between Galaxy Tab and wheel-chair control board for android mouse control
- Arducopter set-up with reduced pilot speed (WPNAV_LOIT_SPEED=200 - PILOT_VELZ_MAX=150)
Of course Aldo can pilot in LOITER only using one joystick at a time jumping from roll/pitch joystick to throttle/yaw command...but this is what a lot of "normal" people do using RC control :)
Yesterday we've tried this configuration in a small park near Aldo's home. Aldo has never tried to fly an RC object so we made it simple. Take off was in traditional way using RC control. When copter was in LOITER Aldo took copter control simply mouth clicking on tablet virtual joysticks. He has been able to control autonomously the copter doing slow and small movements. Next step will be a test in a wider space where Aldo will be able to fly farther and use much simpler AUTO and GUIDED mode.
This is the maiden flight video. It is not a great video as we were so worried about the new system that we didn't care to produce a better footage....but perhaps this video is more true and it documents in a more real way the very first AldoCopter flight.
For sure this is not yet a real "flight" but we are now certain that what we were dreaming of can be done and we are happy to publish this post as it can be of inspiration for other friends that share the same problems...and the same dream. :)