Thought controlled drone

Written by admin on June 10th, 2013

The future is now as a drone has been controlled by thought. Next step, your F-22 controlled by an engineer miles away in the safety of his dorm. Reality or fiction ? Well, the drone part is absolutely real. It was only a matter of time before it became possible to control a drone with mere thoughts. In a gymnasium in Minneapolis, Minnesota, an AR.Drone quad-rotor helicopter made by French firm Parrot has been zooming right and left, up and down, and even through hoops as its pilot merely thinks of concepts related to such directions. Bin He and colleagues at the University of Minnesota, who developed the rig, are not trying to use mind control to launch precision drone strikes. Instead, their aim is to demonstrate the power of the brain to move the machines that aid disabled people – whether those machines are exoskeletons, wheelchairs or bionic prosthetic limbs. Of course the military is looking at it especially as this would create a new fighter pilot, able to fly by thought focus. Drones have been piloted with low-resolution, 14-electrode gaming electroencephalography (EEG) headsets before, but the Minnesota team are claiming a first in that they use an EEG headset with 64 electrodes peppered across the pilot’s scalp. The result is finer drone control than was previously possible. The team has demonstrated this control by navigating a series of obstacles. Their trick was to come up with a very distinctive thought for each desired motion. For instance, to move the AR.Drone to the right, the pilot had to imagine making a fist with their right hand, while to move upwards they had to think of making fists with both hands. This provided a strong output from the motor cortex that could be sensed by the EEG, rather than vague thoughts of, for example, left and right motion.

Technology is beautiful and one can only be impressed at the amount of innovations this century has already seen. And especially in aviation. I would love to see what the US Air Force has in the sleeves in some hangar somewhere in the Nevada Desert…

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