A unique concept where a DJI Tello Drone helps visually impaired people play badminton. Researchers in Japan have replaced the shuttlecock with an encased DJI Tello drone accompanied by a specially modified set of rackets to make it possible.
Yoichi Ochiai, assistant professor at the University of Tsukuba, and his students have developed a system that recognizes the location of a flying object during racket sports.
It is next to impossible for visually impaired people to play sports such as badminton. The researchers have tried to resolve this, by building a solution to provide such players with auxiliary information such as height, depth, left and right directions, and swing delay through a distinctive sound and haptic feedback.
They have come up with Sensor-equipped rackets and a DJI Tello drone buzzing safely inside a cage. This is similar to how drone soccer is played.
It won’t be possible to hit a drone with a conventional racket as it may damage the machine. A solution the team came up with was to take strings out and attach the sensors to the frame. The sensors were able to detect the drone passing through the frame and automatically change direction to move towards the opponent.
The team of researchers in order to perfect the prototype conducted tests with visually impaired players. The results can be witnessed in the video below. The badminton racket is replaced by a motion-capturing, customizable frame with a short, sensor-laden stout, which also provides a firmer grip.
The system can identify four distinct types of shots such as smash, receive, clear shot, and hairpin net shot. The Drone/Shuttle can be moved to the left/right by simply swinging in that direction.
The tests were conducted on people who acquired visual disabilities later in life. They said they enjoyed playing “drone badminton” as it allowed them to reconnect with a sport they love. On the downside, drone badminton does lack the thrill of speed and lacks agility.
According to the researchers though the current design targets badminton, it can be extended to other mid-air sports too.