As brain-controlled prosthetics and exoskeletons are increasing in popularity, and are especially set to take off after a paralyzed Brazilian teen kicks off the World Cup, we may see a technological trend involving mind-controlling everything. We can even control Asimo with our brains, and that’s just the beginning. Scientists at Germany’s Institute for Flight System Dynamics at the Technical University of Munich and TU Berlin have figured out how to successfully control aircraft with their minds.
Funded by the EU program “Brainflight,” scientists have devised a “feasible” systems for pilots to fly hands-free, merely by thinking commands for the aircraft, and it works surprisingly well. The test pilots wore the usual EEG (electroencephalography) cap, which allowed them to control a flight simulator by will, including take-off and landing. Scientists believe that this could ultimately make flights safer, especially by reducing the workload and flight hours of pilots, and freeing them up to attend to other cockpit tasks.
The technology isn’t quite ready to roll out just yet — scientists will have to refine the control system, especially when it comes to steering, which involves more resistance than driving a car, and requires pilots to make adjustments to feedback that doesn’t exist in the mind-controlled set-up. The interface also only works with very clear commands and distinct brain impulses, so pilots would have to train themselves to think decisively and clearly. Still, one of the test pilots successfully controlled the plane to target 8 of 10 times with minimal deviation, and some of them even landed the planes in bad weather with poor visibility.
As crazy as it sounds, and despite it conjuring up images of some very futuristic hijacking possibilities, if we can control wheelchairs and other vehicles, not to mention other people, then why not? I wonder whether the incidents of fly-by dronings would increase or decrease.