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You may have had remote controlled airplanes growing up, but they probably weren't as cool as the quadcopter. This tiny helicopter looks a lot like a toy, but it's really a high-tech robot controlled exclusively by human thought.

Developed by a team of researchers at the University of Minnesota, the four-blade helicopter, or quadcopter, can be quickly and accurately controlled for a sustained amount of time using the electrical impulses associated with a subject's thoughts.

The team used a noninvasive technique known as electroencephalography (EEG) to record the electrical brain activity of five different subjects. Each subject was fitted with a cap equipped with 64 electrodes, which sent signals to the quadcopter over a WiFi network.

The subjects were positioned in front of a screen that relayed images of the quadcopter's flight through an on-board camera, allowing them to see the course the way a pilot would. The plane, which was driven with a pre-set forward moving velocity, was then controlled by the subject's thoughts.

By imagining that they were using their right hand, left hand and both hands together, subjects controlled the flight path of the plane. If they imagined raising their left hand, for example, the plane turned left. If they imagined raising their hands together, the plane lifted higher in the air.

Once they got the hang of it, subjects were able to fly the quadcopter through foam rings scattered around the indoor course.

"Our study shows that for the first time, humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using just their thoughts, sensed from noninvasive brain waves," said Bin He, lead scientist behind the study and a professor with the University of Minnesota's College of Science and Engineering.

He and his fellow researchers plan on using the study to further their understanding of how a brain-computer interface (BCI) can help assist, augment or repair cognitive or sensory-motor functions in those suffering from paralysis or other disabilities.

"Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain wave signals," said He. "With the eventual goal of developing brain-computer interfaces that aid patients with disabilities or neurodegenerative disorders."

The University of Minnesota team isn't the only group of researchers making breakthroughs in the field of brain-controlled avionics. Scientists at the University of Essex in the U.K. are also working with researchers at NASA to create a BCI that can be used aboard a spacecraft simulator. The team hopes to one day use the interface to assist fatigued astronauts during space travel.

And last year, researchers at Zhejiang University in China were able to control a hovering drone using a commercial EEG headset, setting the stage for more advanced uses of this noninvasive brain technology in the future.

This story was provided by TechNewsDaily, a sister site to LiveScience. Email or follow her @techEpalermo. Follow us @TechNewsDaily, on Facebook or on Google+.
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Tymeaus Jalynsfein
Awesome indeed... smile.gif
That's pretty sweet. spin.gif
That is why Riggers rule the world.
“I wish many guns. Floating around me. Controlled by murder thoughts.”

You can't have them. The maker engine is on electronic drugs again.
QUOTE (bannockburn @ Jun 6 2013, 06:34 PM) *
You can't have them. The maker engine is on electronic drugs again.

sometimes I wished for a "Like" or "thumbs up" button
I feel like this isn't

There was a group in my senior design class that used pretty much the same tech to control a character in a video game. Obviously things have progressed a bit. Back then it was more or less "these nine variables are concentration-ish related. We have no idea what the other 61 are," so tying things to simply the imagining of moving a specific limb is a leap...but it's been five years. I'm not really all that surprised.
Oh my fucking God you guys we are almost THERE.
QUOTE (Neurosis @ Jun 6 2013, 08:54 PM) *
Oh my fucking God you guys we are almost THERE.

Not me. My group was busy trying to make a 3D virtual world in X3D. And failing horribly.
Mind-controlled robot moves closer to reality (Video)

Thought-controlled robots are no longer the stuff of science fiction.

A group of French experts has teamed up with a Japanese robotics institute to develop technology which enables a person to remotely control a humanoid robot just by thinking about it.

The robot controller’s brain activity, which is linked with changes in blood flow, is detected by a brain scan. This has allowed researchers to develop a specific programme.

“It’s only a robot that you are operating at a distance. But the level of embodiment of the interface between the human and the robot should be in a way, such that you feel that this robot is part of you,” said Abderrahmane Kheddar, Director of the CNRS-AIST Japanese-French Joint Robotics Laboratory.

In one experiment, a camera mounted on the robot can see bottles of different sizes which flicker at a different frequency.

When the user focuses on a particular object, sensors detect the flickering frequency of the brain’s activity and the robot reaches out to grab the right bottle.

After a series of training sessions, the programme learns to associate a specific blood flow pattern with a specific body movement command.

To make the robot walk, flickering arrows appear on a screen and the sensors detect which arrow the user is concentrating on.

According to Damien Petit, a senior researcher at the lab, it is straight forward to use: “You just have to clear your mind and not to think about a lot of stuff, and just be focus on what you want to do. If you want to navigate the robot or take the object.”

A marriage between man and robot is the ultimate aim, a symbiosis which could have many every day practical uses.
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