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iPhone app controls drone aircraft 3,000 miles away

At the present time, flying unmanned drone aircraft requires a skilled operator and a lot of equipment. Engineers at the Boeing Company and researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology want to change all of that and make it possible for regular people to control aircraft from a handheld device like an iPhone.

In the Boeing video shown below, an operator in Seattle is tapping and swiping on the screen of an iPhone and flying a tethered drone on a baseball field at MIT in Cambridge, Massachusetts. The idea of the experiment is not to have iPhone owners wage war, but to "allow drones to be used more effectively for tasks that are dirty or dangerous, as well as for missions that may be too long and tedious to have a human be continuously at the controls."

The experimental app features two modes of operation. The first lets the operator set a path for the drone to follow by tapping waypoints on a map displayed on the iPhone screen, while the second mode uses a camera on the drone and "nudge controls" to send the aircraft in the desired direction.

The project is a collaboration between the aerospace giant and MIT, and a fascinating look at how iPhone apps are being developed for use by the military.

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