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Thought-Powered Helicopter Takes Off

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Test subjects guided this remote-controlled helicopter with their thoughts.

Participants in a University of Minnesota study guide a remote-controlled helicopter through an obstacle course with their thoughts.

Credit: University of Minnesota

In an experiment at the University of Minnesota, participants have powered a remote-controlled helicopter through an obstacle course with their thoughts. Wearing a non-invasive cap that captures brain electrical activity, the participants taught a computer the brain patterns corresponding to thoughts of movement, and then the computer was set up to run the helicopter over Wi-Fi.

The participants had success rates as high as 90 percent for avoiding obstacles.

The development could benefit people with disabilities, says Bin He, director of the university's Institute for Engineering in Medicine. "We want to control a wheelchair, and turn on the TV, and most importantly--this is my personal dream--to develop a technology to use the subject's intention to control an artificial limb in that way, and make it as natural as possible," He says.

The researchers also see applications for controlling household robots. "The brain-computer interface technology may ultimately not only help disabled patients but may also help the healthy population...not to restore loss of function but to enhance function beyond what we can accomplish," He notes.

From BBC News
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