There are a large number of people who are already afraid of getting onto a plane and then technology does this! Researchers have recently shown, and that too quite successfully, how a pilot is now capable of taking off, flying, turning and twisting, and landing a drone by using only his thoughts. The flight made use of an EEG cap and a software particularly designed for this purpose. The brain-to-computer interface (BCI) software has been developed as a part of the Brainflight project.
Brainflight has been created as a product of collaboration between a total of four firms; Tekever, Eagle Science, Champalimaud Foundation and Technische Universität München. A public presentation that took place in Lisbon saw the teams from Tekever and Champalimaud make use of an EEG cap to measure the brain waves of the pilot. Afterwards, a bespoke software along with an algorithm converted the brain signals into commands for drone.
According to Tekever, “The drone operator, wearing a cap that measures brain activity, influences the drone’s path using nothing but simple thoughts. Essentially, the electricity flowing through the pilot’s brain acts as an input to the drone’s control system, in order to perform, on the air, a mission with objectives previously defined by the research team.”
Brainflight basically merges neuroscience research with aeronautical systems engineering. The system has been tested out with a 4-seat, dual engine and propeller driven airplane simulator. The next step is to make use of this technology in live flights. The researchers are quite hopeful that BCI shall be looked upon in future for the method to control aircraft even for manned and remotely piloted flights.
Tekever further said, “Through the BCI approach, we believe people will be able to pilot aircraft just like they perform everyday activities like walking or running. This will mean that pilots will be able to focus on higher cognitive activities while still being able to operate such a complex system as an aircraft.” According to experts, this will lead to reduction in pilots’ workload while also allowing disabled persons to become pilots.
Ricardo Mendes from Tekever said, “The project has successfully demonstrated that the use of the brain computer interface (BMI) on a simulator for the Diamond DA42 aircraft, where one pilot controlled the simulator through the Brainflight system. We’ve also integrated the BMI with UAV ground systems and have successfully tested it in UAV simulators. We’re now taking it one step further, and performing live flight tests with the UAV.” Still amazed? Watch the video below to know more!