Control Robot Planes With Hand Gestures!

Aircraft-carrier crew have long used hand gestures to guide planes on the carrier deck. MIT researchers are working on a gesture recognition system for drone aircraft.


(MIT video shows gesture control)

Yale Song, a PhD student in MIT’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, his advisor, computer science professor Randall Davis, and David Demirdjian, a research scientist at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), recorded a series of videos in which several different people performed a set of 24 gestures commonly used by aircraft-carrier deck personnel. In order to test their gesture-identification system, they first had to determine the body pose of each subject in each frame of video...

The main challenge in classifying the signals, Song explains, is that the input — the sequence of body positions — is continuous: Crewmembers on the aircraft carrier’s deck are in constant motion. The algorithm that classifies their gestures, however, can’t wait until they stop moving to begin its analysis. “We cannot just give it thousands of [video] frames, because it will take forever,” Song says.

Gesure-recognition by machines is a familiar idea to anyone who has read Douglas Adams' Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy:

The machine was rather difficult to operate. For years radios had been operated by means of pressing buttons and turning dials; then as the technology became more sophisticated the controls were made touch-sensitive--you merely had to brush the panels with your fingers; now all you had to do was wave your hand in the general direction of the components and hope.
(Read more about Adam's gesture control)

Update: Here's a science-fictional example of a gesture-controlled aircraft from the series Earth: Final Conflict (starts about thirty seconds into the clip):

After arriving on Earth, the Taelons (also known as the Companions) entered into a partnership with the Human race and one of the many recruited into their service due to her extensive experience as a Marine pilot was Captain Lili Marquette (Played by Lisa Howard). Lili was an ergonomic prodigy that not only redesigned elements from the internal shuttle structure, she most importantly created a holographic gesture control shield interface which allowed humans to fly Taelon Shuttles. Consequently, Lili leveraged her position, knowledge and experience to create the Official Taelon Shuttle pilot certification program for humans. The Taelon shuttles can travel in both normal and inter-dimensional space.
(Earth: Final Conflict)

Thanks as always to Moira, for contributing the tip! End update.

I'm looking forward to seeing the video from a drone strafing run showing someone on the ground attempting to hack into the plane's operating system with gestures...

From MIT.

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