A novel foot-pedal-operated system and device were developed to control translational and rotational movement of an object in three-dimensional (3D) space. The Foot Pedal Controller system enables operators to control movement of spacecraft, aircraft, and water-craft using only two foot pedals. This design leaves the hands free for simultaneous operation of other equipment.
The Foot Pedal Controller integrates six articulating mechanisms and motion sensors and provides continuous positional feedback to the operator. Motion control across six degrees of freedom is enabled by three control motions for each foot — forward/backward, up/down, and left/right (translation in three perpendicular axes) — combined with rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed pitch, yaw, and roll.
The components of the technology are a support structure, a left foot pedal, a right foot pedal, and supporting electronics. The controller is intuitive, easy to learn, and has ergonomic features that accommodate and stabilize the operator's feet.
The Foot Pedal Controller technology could be used in designs for the flight deck of the future, video game controls, drone operations, and flight simulators. This technology can be useful in any application where it is preferred or desirable to use the feet to control motion rather than using the hands. A potential market could be foot control of equipment by people with arm or hand disabilities.
A unique aspect of the innovation is the consideration of natural foot mechanics in the design and placement of the sensors and actuators to reduce operator fatigue. The axes of rotation of the controller align with the joints of the foot so the foot moves naturally to control the movement of the craft.