HCI student programs drone to capture aerial footage of campus

Smile! You’re on camera! If you are wondering what has been flying overhead on campus this summer, it could be one of the Human-Computer Interaction department’s unmanned aerial vehicles.

Graduate student, Phillip Moore, earned his BFA in graphic design from SUNY Oswego before pursuing a master’s degree in Human-Computer Interaction (HCI). Moore became interested in learning more about HCI after meeting program coordinator, Damian Schofield.

Schofield’s passion for the field and the close relationships with students attracted Moore to the program. Also appealing to Moore was the flexibility of the program which allowed him to explore a variety of topics in the field.

“All of my life I’ve been these two people. I am interested in science fiction and technology and I’m also an artist and designer. HCI meant I could pursue of those things,” Moore said.

Moore has recently partnered with the Office of Public Affairs to capture aerial footage of campus.

“All of my life I’ve been these two people. I am interested in science fiction and technology and I’m also an artist and designer. HCI meant I could pursue of those things.”
Phillip Moore, HCI student

Robot research

Following a course on transhumanism, Moore and five of his HCI peers traveled to Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology (RMIT) in Melbourne, Australia. The HCI and RMIT screenwriting students collaborated on producing short films with NAO robots as the actors. The robot theater research measured viewer’s emotional attachment to the robots as actors.

It was in Melbourne that Moore was first introduced to drone research. While at RMIT, Moore was exposed to a prototype quadcopter, developed by a PhD student, designed to act as a jogging partner. The “jogging” quadcopter was intended to gamify exercise in order to measure the effect the robot’s presence had on runners.

Upon returning to the states, the HCI department purchased three quadcopters of its own to allow students to begin their own research on the unmanned aerial vehicles.

The combination of the jogging-partner quadcopter and robot theater, sparked Moore’s interest in the way humans interact with and react to robots. These experiences served as the catalyst to Moore’s research with drones.

Moore’s next project involved creating his own screenplay featuring a drone named A.L.F.E. and its owner. Moore then measured viewer’s perception of the drone and their emotional connection to it.

Moore said he was not concerned that using the word drone when referring to the quadcopter would influence viewer reactions. “I’d like to take the word drone back,” he said. “Quadcopters are drones, it is one type of drone. Not all drones are military predators that blow stuff up. Any autonomous flying robot is a drone.” Though Moore noted the proper terminology for the particular technology he uses is “unmanned aerial vehicle” or UAV.

Quadcopters over campus

Once Moore’s research project was complete, he took on a project through a partnership with the Office of Public Affairs to shoot aerial photography of the campus with the UAV. The photography will be used on a variety of the school’s materials.

Moore is looking forward to the first week of classes so he is able to fly over SUNY Oswego while it is alive with students.

Currently, Moore is using a 3DRobotics Iris UAV to capture the footage. This model can be remote controlled up 100 feet or the flight path can be pre-programmed on a computer.

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The next step

As a personal project, Moore would like to continue to work with drones and has plans to build his own. By building his own, the drone could be used for specific purposes. Moore hopes to combine his background in art and HCI to create synchronized flying paths for the drone. By inputting code and a piece of music the drone’s flight path would vary depending on the song.

Moore is also currently working on a paper examining the legalization of commercial use of UAVs.

WIth plans to move to Philadelphia this fall, Moore hopes to secure a position in usability. He would also like to continue to produce and edit videos for the web.

Learn about SUNY Oswego’s Human-Computer Interaction program or request more information.