German scientists from Munich and Berlin universities have been working on Brainflight, a system which allows a plane to be steered using the power of thought only. Scientists showed how seven pilots – some with no previous experience of flying – used mind control to fly aircraft with astonishing accuracy. Particiapnts wore a cap containing dozens of electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, which could read electrical signals from their brains. A specially-formulated algorithm then converted those signals into computer commands. So to turn left the pilot simply images the making the manoeuvre. Scientists are already thinking up other possible uses of this technology.
Thorsten Zander is a researcher on the project, and is excited by the possibilities: “One goal of this research is to help people who are paralysed and cannot physically steer things. So we hope, in the future to help them steer a computer mouse, a car, a plane. But I see it could be used by able people too. Perhaps it could help surgeons interact with a computer during an operation, when their hands are fully occupied! Perhaps it could help in situations like these.”
According to the researchers, using brain control could make flying easier. It could reduce the workload for pilots and thereby increase safety. It could also give pilots more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit. This isn’t the first time mind control has been used to fly an object. Last year in the US a remote controlled helicopter was flown through a series of hoops using the power of the human mind.