University of Minnesota released a YouTube video Tuesday that depicts a team of graduate students controlling a small aircraft using only their thoughts.
The team, headed by biomedical engineering professor Bin He, engineered a way to use a person’s thoughts to navigate a small robot helicopter.
Karl LaFleur, a graduate student, explained in the video that if you imagine making a fist with your right hand, the robot turns to the right. If you imagine making a fist with both hands, the robot flies up, said Alex Doud, another graduate student.
The video voiceover explained how such mind control is possible: when the controller imagines a movement, specific neurons in the brain’s motor cortex produce electric currents.
The currents are detected by electrodes in an EEG cap, which sends signals to the computer. The computer translates the signal pattern into a command and beams it to the robot via Wi-Fi.
Professor He said that the new technology could profoundly impact people who cannot move or speak by giving them the ability to control tools such as a wheelchair or artificial limb by visualizing certain images.
“It is all about helping people with a disability or various neurodegenerative disease,” He remarked.
The method is noninvasive, with no special chip involved.