Fly a drone by touching Raspberry Pi-connected fruit

Sixteen-year-old Ali Edis is passionate about innovative tech and nature, so he combined the two by tweaking a drone’s control system so you can fly it by touching different fruits. Yes. Fruits.

Actual wizardry. Definite stake-burning potential if the 1690s got hold of this.

His aim is to encourage more young people to engage with the natural sciences and conservation through creative technology.

How does capacitive touch work?

Capacitive touch sensors inside Ali’s fruit controllers work just like a touchscreen phone, tablet, or supermarket self-checkout. They’re made with conductive material which responds when touched by another electrical conductor, such as a bare fingertip. When you touch a touchscreen or a piece of fruit with a capacitive touch sensor in it, it draws a small charge to the point of contact, becoming a functional capacitor. The change in the electrostatic field is measured to find the location.

ali edis with his fruit controlled drone

The fruit element of this project seems like wizardry until you remember how capacitive touch lines work.

How does the fruit make the drone fly?

Lots of crocodile cables let the real fruits talk to our fruit-named computer via an Adafruit Capacitive Touch HAT. So many fruit-based things. One end of each crocodile cable clips onto a sensor inside a piece of fruit, and the other end connects to the Capacitive Touch HAT.

ali edis with his fruit controlled drone

A touch on one of the sensor-rigged fruits is read by Raspberry Pi, which then moves the drone accordingly. Each of the ten fruits can be assigned the value 0 or 1. When you touch one of the fruits, its value becomes 1, and depending on which fruit you touch, the drone takes off or lands, or it goes forwards, backwards, left, right, up, or down. When Raspberry Pi reads a value of 0, the drone doesn’t take the action that corresponds to that piece of fruit.


Follow Ali’s adventures

If this project is anything to go by, I predict Ali will create many more weird and wonderful things in the future. Follow him on Instagram, LinkedIn, YouTube or Twitter to keep up.

Ali also sends WhatsApp messages by handling fruit. Yes, really.

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