Mobulair’s brief for the Alternative Limb Project was unusual, to say the least: to design and build a miniature drone mounted in a prosthetic limb and controllable by the wearer’s hand and mouth.
It doesn’t get much more cutting edge, and the project ticked all the boxes for Mobulair, featuring technical ingenuity, great teamwork and communication, and most importantly – a happy customer at the end of the project.
The customer in this instance was James Young, a 25-year-old Biological Science graduate who had lost his arm and leg in a rail accident in 2012. With a passion for tech, James entered and won a competition to be fitted with futuristic prosthetic limb, designed in collaboration with computer games giant Konami. The arm was designed to be laden with innovative technology – so embedding a quadcopter and control panel was a no-brainer.
Over many months, Mobulair worked closely with James to understand his needs and physical limitations. In tandem we worked with arm designer, Sophie de Oliveira Barata, from the Alternative Limb Project, to develop the drone, docking station and controllers.
After several intermediate builds, the final spec was a powerful Rotor X
Atom kit (with tiny 122mm CF frame and 1105 brushless motors), DYS 20A ESC with BLHeli, Naze32 flight controller, micro MinimOSD, a 600mW VTX, and a tiny FPV camera.
Our involvement didn’t end there. Mobulair also provided James with vital flight training — first on an FPV simulator and then at the local flying field on a range of small quadcopters. During one of the training days we also provided aerial photography services to the BBC Three team who were making a documentary about the project. Mobulair also took James and sponsors Konami FPV drone-racing around an indoor sports arena at London’s Olympic Park.
Being involved in the Alternative Limb Project was an incredibly proud moment for Mobulair and unsurprisingly James and the Project have received huge media coverage. Read more in the links below.
You can watch the BBC Three documentary here:
Photos by Omkaar Kotedia