Our new Qball-X4 UAV has been flying autonomously or using a standard 4-channel joystick for some time now. We decided we wanted to fly the Qball-X4 with something a little less conventional: an iPod. Using QUARC, Quanser's real-time control software, and our stream communications API, we are able to interface an iPod and read the accelerometer measurements and user inputs directly into a Simulink model. Our Qball-X4 flight stabilization controller is also implemented in MATLAB Simulink using QuaRC, which allows the generated code to be downloaded and executed on-board the vehicle. Once we added the iPod inputs to our Qball-X4 model, it was simple to compile the controller and start flying.
The video below shows a test flight of the Qball-X4 we performed recently using the iPod's accelerometers to control the roll and pitch commands to the vehicle with one pilot, while the second pilot controls the throttle and the yaw. We are working on an iPod controller that only requires one pilot to fly the vehicle, but this test was a very interesting way to combine a new human interface with an existing vehicle controller.
Note: Qball-X4 is slated for release in spring 2010.