Building UAVs is only half the work involved in making them fly; the other half is a control system. The Center for Collaborative Control of Unmanned Vehicles (C3UV) from the University of Califorina, Berkeley has devised a way to control a squad of RC airplanes with an iPhone. The system works by submitting commands and coordinates to a web site via the iPhone’s web browser. The site then sends the commands to the team of drones, which carry out the orders. The drones are outfitted with cameras and a tracking device, which allows them to be monitored on the ground using Google Maps.
The iPhone Terms of Service specifically prohibits it being used to drive remote vehicles, but that shouldn’t really pose a problem: since the orders are deployed via the iPhone’s web browser, they could technically be given by any web-enabled device. Before anyone cries foul, though, bear in mind that the idea is to issue orders from the field, and the iPhone is perhaps the most high-profile mobile web device on the market, which maximizes the project’s exposure. Still, we can’t help but think that they’d have gotten more media attention if they had used a hacked Kindle instead.