Magazine article The Futurist

Drones for Humanity: When One Man Lost His Ability to Moue He Discovered the Power of Drones

Magazine article The Futurist

Drones for Humanity: When One Man Lost His Ability to Moue He Discovered the Power of Drones

Article excerpt

I became a mute quadriplegic at the ripe old age of 40. It took me several years, but with the help of an incredibly supportive family, I finally decided life was still worth living.

I became fascinated with using technology to help the severely disabled; I had tracking devices sold commercially by the company Ma-dentec convert my tiny head movements into cursor movements and enable my use of a regular computer. I can surf the Web, exchange e-mail with people, and routinely destroy my friend Steve Cousins in online word games. This technology allows me to remain engaged, mentally active, and feel like I am a part of the world.

For about two years, Robots for Humanity developed ways for me to use the PR2 assistive robot as my body surrogate. I shaved myself for the first time in 10 years. I handed out Halloween candy. I opened my refrigerator on my own. I began doing tasks around the house. I saw new and previously unthinkable possibilities to live and contribute, both for myself and others in my circumstance.

All of us have disabilities in one form or another. For example, if either you or I want to go 60 miles an hour, we both will need an assistive device called a car. Your disability doesn't make you any less of a person, and neither does mine.

In 2012, Kaijen Hsiao of Willow Garage connected with me Chad Jenkins. Chad showed me how easy it is to purchase and fly aerial drones. It was then I realized that I could also use an aerial drone to expand the worlds of bedridden people through flight, giving a sense of movement and control that is incredible. …

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