On April 16, the University of Florida organized a drone race where the machines were controlled by students using EEG sensors.
According to CNET, this is not the first project to create drones piloted using mind power. However, this is the first time when it was organized a drone race were pilots have completed with each other using brain activity to control their drones.
Emotiv Insight EEG headsets were used by the students at the University of Florida as a control mechanism for their drones. The devices are able to read brain activity, translate it and communicate it in real-time to drones.
The process of piloting drones using your mind is not an easy one. The first step is to link certain commands with their assigned thoughts. Certain neurons will fire when the pilot is thinking about the word "up," for instance.
The commands can be programmed to pilot the drone. However, each pilot will need a custom control program designed just for their brain, since everyone has unique brain activity.
The University of Florida organized the Brain Drone Race with the aim to inspire research projects to help build on the technology. This is a world premiere and the first race of mind-controlled drones is expected to open many exciting opportunities for such futuristic interface.
The competition took place inside a 10-yard indoor basketball court. The race reunited 16 pilots who used their willpower to drive the drones.
According to Tech Times, the technology that allows humans to control machines using their thoughts is called Brain Computer Interface (BCI). Previous applications of such technology were found in the medical field. Mind-controlled prosthetics already helped some paralyzed people to move again.
The technology has become widely available and increasingly popular. BCI headsets from startups such as Emotiv and NeuroSky can now be purchased online for just several hundred dollars.
Mind-controlled devices open endless possibilities. They can advance the way people live, have fun and work. They make monitor people's moods, provide an immersive experience in the virtual world or unlock the house door, among many others.