Chinese develop mind-control drone; US scours dog-eared copy of Ender’s Game for ideas

Making controllers accessible to people with arthritis or only one hand is… doable, but kind of hard. Researchers at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou, China, decided to forget physical controllers. They found a way for humans to control a flying robot with their minds. New Scientist reports:

The quadcopter’s range of motion is limited by the brain activity that the EEG can pick up. A user can move the flyer forward by thinking “right”, fly up by thinking “push”, and turn clockwise by thinking “left”. Thinking “left hard” tells the quadcopter to take off from the ground. Clenched teeth and blinking both produce a brain signal that the EEG can read, commanding the flyer to descend or to take a picture using the on-board camera, respectively. By default, that camera sends a stream of video back to the laptop, and the user can capture a still of any scene they choose by blinking four times. The system is due to be presented next month at the Ubiquitous Computing Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

Look past the heavily accented English in this video to see the quadcopter in action.