Wednesday, 5 June 2013

The drones of today are controlled via a remote control. The drones of tomorrow will be controlled via your brain.

University of Minnesota Biomedical Engineering Professor Bin He recently unveiled his latest project – a drone that can be controlled with brain waves. The device in question is a skullcap with a variety of sensors place on the outside of it that picks up brain waves from the person wearing it. The computer translates these brainwaves into commands for the drone thus allowing the user to control movement with their mind.

Of course, brain-controlled drones are not the end result of this experiment. He’s team hopes to use this drone as a stepping stone to noninvasive remedies for people with neurodegenerative diseases that take away their ability to speak or move.

The University of Pittsburgh has already been researching ways to give mobility back to those who have lost all motor functions. Late last year, the university shared the story of Jan Scheuermann – a woman who suffered from a rare neurodegenerative disease that robber her of all of her motor functions. The researchers at the university implanted a cable into her brain that allowed her to control a robotic arm. It wasn’t much, but it was the first time in more than a decade that she had any kind of freedom of movement.

Now that example is much farther along than He’s, but his solution promises to be completely noninvasive. He hopes to make it so that those suffered from neurodegenerative diseases will not have to get chips implanted into their heads, or have wires leading out of the body.

For now, however, we can just look on in awe as a drone performs mid-air tricks using only commands being fed to it by somebody’s mind.

If you want to know more, check out this article in the Journal of Neural Engineering.


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