A team of neuroscience researchers performed the first flight of a mind-controlled helicopter. Using only their thoughts, they managed to fly and manoeuvre the remote-controlled rotorcraft.
A sophisticated “brain-computer interface” was necessary in order for the difficult task to be accomplished. The “brain-computer interface” detects thoughts, interprets them as control signals and directs the helicopter accordingly.
In a YouTube video of the experiment, the four-rotor “quadcopter” is shown navigating up, forward, left and right by a pilot wearing a cap fitted with 64 electrodes.
Karl LaFleur, a graduate student who worked on the project, stated: “Imagine making a fist with your right hand, it turns the robot to the right”.
“And if you imagine making a fist with both hands, it moves the robot up” added Alex Doud, another researcher shown in the YouTube video.
The research was completed under the leadership of Prof. Bin He, at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering.
“This brain-computer interface technology is all about helping people with a disability or various neurodegenerative diseases, to help them regain mobility, independence and enhance performance”, he stated.
“We envision they could use this technology to help control wheelchairs, artificial limbs or other devices”, added the professor.