Researchers Fly Helicopter Using 'Thought Control'

Dennis Faas's picture

A group of researchers at China's Zhejiang University have used fast-emerging 'thought-control' technology to successfully launch a helicopter into the air and have it perform a controlled series of maneuvers.

To make the mind-controlled device (called FlyingBuddy2) soar, the scientists first adapted a Parrot AR Drone 2.0 so that it could be operated by an Emotiv EPOC electroencephalogram (EEG) headset hooked up to a PC running special software.

Basically, the operator wears the headset, connected via Bluetooth to a laptop, which then transmits flight instructions to the helicopter. At that point, the controls are actually pretty simple. But the 'thought-control' aspect is pretty exotic.

In a recent demonstration, the act of thinking "left" made the remote-controlled drone take off. Similarly, thinking "left," "right," and "push," made the drone turn clockwise, move forward, and gain altitude, respectively.

To make the FlyingBuddy2 descend, the operator needed only to clench his teeth. One of the most compelling features of this system is that the device can take pictures when the operator quickly blinks four times. (Source:

Mind Control Wins in Aerial Battle

To show the range of the flying system's functions, researchers posted a video in which the FlyingBuddy2 flew against a traditional controller-operated flyer. The two machines attempted to knock each other out of a defined airspace.

The mind-controlled helicopter bested its opponent.

While 'thought-control' technology can now be used to perform tasks never before possible, the researchers believe brainwave-based technology could one day help disabled people control devices that perform arduous and important daily tasks. (Source:

Game Integration on the Way

A wide variety of applications may soon be possible. The Emotive headset ($299) can plug into any recent Windows computer to begin working with apps and games (yes, even Angry Birds is rumored to soon be operable via mind control).

However, some experts are advising people not to rush out and purchase a 'thought-control' headset just yet. Over time, the technology will likely decrease in size and become even simpler to use. (Source:

A video of 'thought-control' technology in action is available here.

Rate this article: 
No votes yet