Science fiction stories in which pilots control spacecrafts with their minds have become less about fiction and more science. A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota have developed the next step in thought-controlled vehicles. Watch this model helicopter fly through an obstacle course using brainwaves.
The aircraft’s pilot operates it remotely using a cap of electrodes to detect brainwaves that are translated into commands.
Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled copter hope to adapt their technology for directing artificial robotic limbs and other medical devices. Today’s best neural prosthetics require electrodes to be implanted in the body and are thus reserved for quadriplegics and others with disabilities severe enough justify invasive surgery.
"We want to develop something non-invasive that can benefit lots of people, not just a limited number of patients," says Bin He, a biomedical engineer at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, whose new results build on his previous work with a virtual thought-controlled helicopter.
A fascinating note: some would-be pilots could not provide clear thought commands during trial studies. Those candidates who meditated or practiced yoga had better focus and stronger mind-body awareness, allowing them to adapt to the brain-computer interface with less training.
Astrophysics Research Scientist Dr. Emily Rice, Hubble Image Processor Zolt Levay, and Astronomer David W. Hogg discuss the mix of technology, data, and inspiration that we use to make images of space come to life.
“How energetic can a severed tail be?” We’re about to find out: This is the Red-Tailed Vanzosaur, a lizard with stripes and brilliantly colored tail. Dr. Jonny Miller, UK biologist based in Paraguay, South America, demonstrates the vanzosaur’s simple survival skills in the video above, and continues to blog about his adventures in the field at planetparaguay.com.
Watch Biologist Dr Jonny Miller introduce the spectacular common potoo. It’s brown, blends in, and doesn’t move much… so why is it so spectacular? Exactly for those reasons. The common potoo is a camouflage master, bravely controlling its movements — or lack of them — in the face of predators. From Dr. Miller:
Although you might not see them, the common potoo is, indeed, common in at least parts of its range. This rage extends from Nicaragua in Central America, south to Argentina. Six other species of potoo are known of, all generally similar in appearance and all performing the same posturing cryptic behaviour.
Marine scientist and Stanford PhD student Cassandra Brooks narrates a two month long time-lapse view from an ice breaker — a specially-designed ship with “a strengthened hull, an ice-clearing shape, and the power to push through sea ice.”