Authors: Rognon, Carine; Koehler, Margaret; Duriez, Christian; Floreano, Dario; Okamura, Allison M.
Haptic feedback located on the torso is proposed to enhance the state awareness of a user in virtual reality or during teleoperation while leaving the hands free for manipulation and communication. We provide haptic feedback on the torso by compressing a set of closed air pouches against the skin in order to render the sensation of air pressure when piloting a drone. The pouch devices are cable driven and integrated in a wearable soft exoskeleton, called the FlyJacket. A mechanical model and simulation of a pouch device were developed in order to determine appropriate parameters, including the air pouch inner pressure, its attachment point, and the cable position. Using the simulation results, a set of pouch devices were constructed and integrated into the soft exoskeleton on both sides of the upper chest and middle of the back. The mechanical performance of the constructed device is close to that predicted by the simulation. Application of the haptic device in a flight task in which the user controls a drone using upper body movements was demonstrated with a user study. Adding haptic feedback during a stabilization task reduced the user’s workload and improved the state awareness of the user.