Thursday, August 21, 2014

Drone Social Innovation Award

The Drone User Group Network is offering a $10,000 cash prize to the most socially beneficial, documented use of a drone. They call it the Drone Social Innovation Award. 

When we saw that "social" was in the title of the award, we couldn't help but think "that's us!"  We at TATTS unabashedly believe that our focus of combining drones with autism/social skills development is the best application of drones for a social good.   We define social as the skills that people on the autism spectrum so desperately need.  A few examples are:
  • Working in a team
  • Turn taking
  • Perspective taking
  • Showing and expressing empathy
  • Making positive comments
We also focus on the development of skills that can assist in the finding and holding of employment.  Drones are a burgeoning industry and young adults on the autism spectrum are a perfect fit from equipment maintenance, flight planning, field execution, and image processing.

Watch our video submittal, like it on YouTube and wish us luck!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Fleet Maintenance - Safety First!

Fleet maintenance is an integral part to all the flying that we do.  Any good drone pilot will tell you that pre and post flight checks keep the pilot, the equipment and all those around them safe.  It's amazing how many little things need a little attention after flying.  Like any aircraft, drones need consistent and meticulous care to ensure they are flight worthy.  To that end, TATTS team members participate in all aspects of maintaining the fleet from battery charging to tightening screws, checking the props, body and all electronics for wear, and ensuring that all electical connections are solid and stable. 

Fleet maintenance is one aspect of civilian drone use where young adults and adults on the autism spectrum are very employable.  After all, skill development that may lead to employment opportunities is a key tenet of TATTS.  Attention to detail and focus are some of our team's many strengths and they take good care of the fleet.

Mitchell charges batteries

DJI has graciously donated 4 additional F550 hexacopters of which we have several built below.  The kids follow a standardized checklist of things to check to ensure the aircrafts are flight worthy so that the team and our surroundings are safe.

Mitchell and Torin checking all the screws (there are over 75 on one drone!) and electrical connections

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

We can "fly" underwater too

You probably didn't know it but the sensor we use on one of our drones (a GoPro Hero3 Black Edition) can also go underwater.  Here's a snippet from the air and from below the water.  I guess you could say that the TATTS crew and equipment are both waterproof.  More or less.
Above the Water

Below the Water

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Wisconsin Life Episode Airs

We are so excited to anounce that the Wisconsin Life episode on the TATTS project is now online and soon to be aired on TV.  Thank you to Wisconsin Public Television for taking the time to come out and hear the TATTS story, meet the kids and experience our flying first hand.

to watch the 5 minute show on our project. 
We're so proud of our kids!
Also - keep an eye out for the July 15th publication of Popular Science.  There will be mention of our kids and their project in a drone article.  Spreading the word!

Friday, June 13, 2014

Neighborhood Kickball

We took one of our drones out to the neighborhood kickball game last week and shot a little video.  Several of the kids from the TATTS Project were there and it gave them a chance to show off what they've learned and for all of us to get an interesting perspective on a game we all love to play.

Snapshot from the air of the playing field

Monday, May 26, 2014

Flying with Wisconsin Public Television

We finally were able to get into the field with the film crew from Wisconsin Public Television.  They were filming us for a segment of Wisconsin Life to air in July of this year.  The kids did a fantastic job flying and being interviewed by the crew.  They explained all sorts of things to the crew such as what they do to get the drone to fly, what they can see from the air, and how the goggles work.

We can't wait to see the piece air!  Here are a few pics:

Henry, Alan and Harrison getting interviewed
Connor lifting off with the cameraman honing in
Elias happy after a successful flight
Mitchell flying with Alan wearing the goggles
"Dronie" of the team

View to the north from Kevin's flight
Our drone taking off
Dan helps Joe (Producer from Wisconsin Public Television) give it a shot

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Research on Visual Perspective Taking (VPT) and Theory of Mind (ToM)

TATTS is by no means an academic research project.  However, given our emphasis on helping kids with autism improve their perspective taking skills, we try to understand the current thinking around the issues of autism and it's impact on perspective taking.  Two key concepts that much of the research in this area evaluate are Visual Perspective Taking (VPT) and Theory of Mind (ToM).  Here are definitions:

  • Visual Perspective Taking - Level 1 is the ability to understand that other people have a different line of sight to ourselves
  • Visual Perspective Taking - Level 2 is the understanding that two people viewing the same item from different points in space may see different things
  • Theory of Mind - the ability to attribute mental states such as beliefs, intents, desires, knowledge, etc. to oneself and others and to understand that others have beliefs, desires, and intentions that are different from one's own.

Here is a link to a review of 13 recent studies that focus on the topic of autism and its impact on perspective taking.  Not exactly light reading but excellent nonetheless. 

The review concludes that researchers need to "...tease apart impairments in the spatial demands of a task vs. the social."  For all of us involved with autism, that sure sounds familiar.  The research review also states that a whole lot more research is needed "The recommendations set out in this review provide a strong motivation for investigating VPT in autism and shed light on why findings so far are inconsistent."  Maybe the TATTS project's use of drones to gather spatial data, our manipulation of that data, and our practicing of social skills throughout can give some of these researchers new insights!