The user simply watches the drones on a monitor and pictures them performing the desired tasks…
Past research has found ways to steer a drone just through the power of the mind. Now, researchers at Arizona State University (ASU) have built on that with a system that allows a pilot to take control of a whole swarm of drones, both in the air and on the ground.
Like previous projects, the ASU system kits out a pilot with an electroencephalogram (EEG) skull cap, complete with 128 electrodes. That headwear records which areas of the brain are activated when the wearer has certain thoughts, allowing those thoughts to be analyzed.
The user simply watches the drones on a monitor and pictures them performing the desired tasks, whether that’s flying close together, spreading out, or docking with ground-based robots to charge batteries or swap information.
“I can see that activity from outside,” said Panagiotis Artemiadis, assistant professor in ASU’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Our goal is to decode that activity to control variables for the robots.”
One thing that took the team by surprise was the fact that the human brain can adapt to the kind of thinking required for swarms and collective behaviors.
The Washington Post also ran the story with some additional details:
An engineering professor at Arizona State University is developing technology that would allow an Air Force pilot to control an entire fleet of drones using his mind.
Panagiotis Artemiadis runs the university’s Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab, where researchers seek to understand and improve interactions between humans and robots. The lab was awarded grants totaling $860,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and U.S. Air Force in 2014 to build out the mind-control technology.
“Ten or 20 years from now, instead of having big expensive aircraft or drones, you can have hundreds or thousands of inexpensive ones you deploy in an area,” Artemiadis said. “Even if you lose half of them, you can still achieve your goals.”
And those drones can be controlled, at least in part, with the human mind…