Robotic devices controlled by brainwaves are a hot area of research, and this new application of thought-control technology is one we really hope takes off. It uses the mind to fully control the movement of a quadrotor helicopter, thanks to some off-the-shelf hardware and custom computer code.
Researchers at China's Zhejiang University have adapted a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 to be operated by an Emotiv EPOC electroencephalogram (EEG) headset hooked up to a PC running custom software. By thinking "left" strongly, the mind-pilot can make the drone take off; thinking "left," "right," and "push," makes it turn clockwise, move forward, and fly up, respectively. More interestingly, clenching teeth makes the drone descend, while blinking commands it to take a photo.
In the video above, you can see a researcher controlling the drone with his mind squaring off against another piloting his with a traditional physical controller. They engage in an aerial "boxing match" attempting to knock one another out of a defined space. The mind-controller quadcopter definitely seems to hold its own.
Zhejiang University's researchers suggest that a more advanced version of this brainwave-based technology could one day let paralyzed or disabled people control their own private aircraft for transportation. Obviously there's a long way to go between controlling a toy and flying a several-ton vehicle, but the concept is already very promising.
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