Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Mind-Controlled Quadcopter Takes To The Air

Researchers at the University of Minnesota have designed an interface that allows humans to control a robot using only their thoughts.
A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota has just added another exciting new technology to the list: a quadcopter that can perform feats of aerial agility, controlled entirely by the pilot's thoughts.
Using electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive cap fitted with 64 electrodes reads the electrical impulses of the brain to control the copter. Thinking of making a fist with the left hand, for example, fires off certain neurons in the brain's motor cortex; the cap interprets this pattern and sends a command to the copter to turn left. Other commands include thinking of making a fist with the right hand to turn right, and making two fists to tell the copter to rise.
In this way, five subjects — two male and three female — were able to successfully pilot the quadcopter quickly and accurately for a sustained period of time through an obstacle course in the university's gymnasium.
Professor Bin He, lead author of the study "Quadcopter control in three-dimensional space using a non-invasive motor imagery-based brain-computer interface", hopes that the research will be developed to create solutions for the disabled. "Our next goal is to control robotic arms using non-invasive brain wave signals, with the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders," he said.
This will not be the first mind-controlled robotic arm; however, the robotic arm announced in December last year requires a brain implant. His solution is much less invasive, requiring no surgery to implant the interface.

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