A Quadcopter You Control With Your Thoughts
University of Minnesota researchers have built a toy-sized aircraft that moves in response to wireless signals interpreted by an EEG cap.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
A team of researchers at the University of Minnesota have designed a toy-sized quadcopter -- a four-bladed helicopter -- that gets its instructions from a person's brain. It works through the use of a special electrode-equipped cap that reads brain waves using EEG and sends information to the copter wirelessly. By imagining different hand movements, the person wearing the cap can make the copter lift into the air and turn left or right. They weren't able to control the forward momentum with the cap because it was preset into the copter, but once they mastered the control techniques, they "were able to fly the quadcopter through foam rings scattered around [an] indoor course."
What's the Big Idea?
Considerable research is being put into brain-computer interfaces (BCI) and their potential to transform the lives of people with paralysis or other motion disorders. The Minnesota copter is not the first of its kind; last year researchers in China created a drone that could be controlled with a commercial EEG headset. Minnesota team lead Bin He says that the next goal for his team is to "control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals."
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