The drones that fly using MIND CONTROL
Controlling robots using the human mind might seem like something taken from science fiction.
But the technology is already available, and it could soon be used by the US army.
A team of researchers has developed technology that lets a human control multiple drones using their brain waves, and the group is now working on squadrons of drones that could perform complex operations.
Researchers at the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control (HORC) lab at Arizona State University have been working with the US army for the last two years.
‘One of the big novelties we are working on is how you can bridge that gap between humans and robots,’ said Professor Panagiotis Artemiadis, director of the lab.
‘Especially when you are talking about multiple robots.’
Now the group has come up with a way for one person to control multiple robots.
‘We believe that the developed control interface could be used in the military within the next 5-10 years,’ Professor Artemiadis told MailOnline.
‘However, we envision other applications too. The robots are generally used for tasks that are dirty, dull or dangerous.
‘Applications of this research can be found in a plethora of tasks that include delivery of medical help to remote areas, search and rescue to inaccessible environments and disaster areas or exploration of unknown and remote environments, ranging from underwater to space.’
The system works using one controller who watches the drones, while his thoughts are read using a computer.
The controller wears a skull cap fitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The device records electrical brain activity. If the controller moves a hand or thinks of something, certain areas light up.
If the user is thinking about spreading the drones out, for example, ‘we know what part of the brain controls that thought,’ Professor Artemiadis said.
These thoughts are then communicated to the robots using Bluetooth.
‘We have a motion-capture system that knows where the quads are, and we change their distance, and that’s it,’ he said.
Up to four small robots, some of which fly, can be controlled with brain interfaces – something that could not be replicated using a joystick.
‘You can’t do something collectively’ with a joystick, Professor Artemiadis said. ‘If you want to swarm around an area and guard that area, you cannot do that.’
To make the drones move, the controller watches the monitor and pictures the drones performing various tasks.
The next step for the research is to test multiple people controlling multiple robots.
He plans to move to a much larger experimental space to refine the proof of concept. In the future, he sees drone swarms performing complex operations, such as search-and-rescue missions.
‘The goal over the next couple of years is to have a hybrid team of groud vehicles, mobile vehicles and aerial vehicles,’ Professor Artemiadis said.