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.
Read the rest of the article at Nature.com.