Company shows off drone piloted by thought

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Researchers at a Portuguese tech company have demonstrated technology that lets someone pilot a drone using only their thoughts, giving rise to the possibility of allowing people with “restricted movement” to fly aircraft in the near future.

BBC News reports that the company, Tekever, believes it could also some day usher in an age of pilot-less aircraft, where pilots control their aircraft from the ground using nothing more than their brain waves.

The aviation industry, on the other hand, has reservations about the safety of such a scheme and doesn’t believe it will ever be implemented, according to an aviation expert who weighed in on the matter.

The core concept of the entire setup is the use of electroencephalography (EEG), a technology that detects brain activity, in conjunction with navigation software. The “pilot” trains their brain over a course of a few weeks to make a small circle on a computer screen go either up or down at will while hooked up the the EEG machine; that in turn tells the drone to turn left or right.

Tekever calls the technology “Brainflight”, and says it has built-in safety measures that prevent bad things from happening should a pilot have a seizure or experience some other similar dramatic lapse.

According to John Strickland, an aviation consultant based in London, brain-controlled flight is “a bridge too far” at the moment, and that the aviation industry is instead more focused on improving materials used in aircraft construction and more efficient engines.

I’m not exactly sold on the concept either. Can you imagine knowing that your flight from Jozi to Durbs is being piloted by some person whose head – and only their head – is hooked into a flight simulator hundreds of kilometers away? No thank you.

[Source – BBC News, Image – CC BY-SA 3.0]

Deon du Plessis

Deon du Plessis

Deon got his first taste of PC gaming at the tender age of 11 when his father bought an 8088 XT, ostensibly to "help him with his homework". Instead, it introduced him to Leisure Suit Larry, King Graham, Sonny Bonds and many more, and Deon has been a PC gamer and hardware enthusiast ever since. He landed his first professional writing gig in 2006 at a prestigious local PC magazine, a very happy happenstance as he got to write for a living about things he loves - tech, PCs, gaming, and everything in between. He's been writing about it all ever since, and loves every minute of it.


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