Leo King, Forbes via Drudge
A company has successfully flown a mind controlled drone, a step that its scientists say will lead to passenger carrying airplanes steered only by pilots’ brains.
In a rather stunning demonstration yesterday, Portuguese business Tekever fitted a special cap to a pilot to measure his brain activity, allowing him to steer a drone through a mission in the sky using his thoughts alone.
The company’s eventual target for the drone technology is applying it to pilots flying private and commercial aircraft using their minds alone, but it acknowledges there is a lot of work ahead.
For yesterday’s test demonstration, in order to steer the drone, pilot Nuno Lourenço focused entirely on simple thoughts within set formats, which he learned during extensive training. This means the drone received clear signals, from his brain waves, that it could process quickly.
“This is an amazing, high-risk and high-payoff project,” Tekever chief operating officer Ricardo Mendes said at the launch. The project needs extensive further technology development, he explained, but added that it “represents the beginning of a tremendous step change in the aviation field, empowering pilots and de-risking missions”.
Key benefits include allowing pilots to focus on the many advanced in-air processes while more simply controlling an aircraft, which the company describes as being akin to how professional sportspeople need to focus on tactical aspects of movement without worrying about maintaining basic game skills.
The system works by a pilot wearing a special cap that can measure his or her brain waves, and it is programmed with highly complex algorithms to counteract any confused or unhelpful thoughts from the pilot that could cause a crash. Tekever is conducting the project with technology research center the Champalimaud Foundation and software business Eagle Science, in collaboration with the Technical University of Munich, Germany.
Tekever is convinced the technology will eventually lead to manned commercial aircraft being flown simply by pilots’ thoughts, and even suggests the system could allow people to drive cars the same way. It believes the technology can also be used in advanced prosthetic limbs, allowing people with severe disabilities to move with their thoughts.
The system has already been tested in a four seat, twin engine, propeller driven airplane simulator, and the company will work on running it in the real thing.
The technology will need extensive development before it is safe enough in such circumstances, and regulators would be unlikely to allow it unless proven to be extremely safe. But the concept is feasible, and perhaps even likely in the long run.