First drone race controlled by the thoughts of the pilots held at The University of Florida held on April 22. Pilots used a device that measured the electrical signals from their brain, called a brain-computer interface (or BCI) to direct the drones.
It is aimed at bringing brain-reading technology out of the research lab and into the real world.
Sixteen students at the University of Florida took part in the competition, which involved piloting drones over an indoor basketball court using sheer willpower.
We have a computer program that you look at, and we tell you- ‘Think forward, like think about pushing a chair forward’ said Juan Gilbert, chairman of the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at the University of Florida.
According to a story published on the topic by HNGN, “Drone racing is quickly becoming a new sport. But imagine if you didn’t need a remote control to actually fly the drone. The University of Florida has held the first-ever brain-powered drone race. Drone racing is becoming more popular as drone technology improves. In fact, there’s a Drone Racing League (DRL) that tests a person’s ability to race a high-powered drone through obstacle courses while using virtual reality headset in combination with a remote control to pilot the drone when it’s out of the person’s line of sight.”
“So we learn to navigate the drone based on your brain patterns for specific things you are thinking about. We are starting a new trend in society. There will be future brain-drone competitions.”
BCI was originally developed to help disabled people regain freedom of movement. Earlier this year, scientists at Duke University in the US unveiled a mind-controlled wheelchair that could transform lives of people who are paralyzed.
Meanwhile, doctors in Miami are using BCI to help a 19-year-old man stand on his own with the help of robotic prosthetics , after losing the use of his legs in a motorbike accident.
However, the technology is now becoming widely accessible, and other sectors are starting to investigate the use of BCI, raising a number of ethical, legal and privacy questions.