Categorized | Ciencia y tecnología

The helicopter ‘flown’ by the brain

The midair quadricopter 'neuronal'.  | University of Minnesota

Perform tests in the air as if it were a helicopter of a model airplane enthusiast. passes through the center of a circle of rubber, made several turns . But not moving with remote control. It is also one of the famous ‘drone’, or drones, popularized by its use in the fight against terrorism. The person who runs it also does not move a muscle. However, his brain buzzing with neuronal activity to make it move .

This is a thought-driven helicopter . Or more accurately, one quadricopter, a type of helicopter with four rotors. University of Minnesota has managed to move through brain impulses , with remarkable accuracy over a long period of time.

“For the first time humans are able to control the flight of flying robots using only our thoughts,” says Professor Bin He, Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Minnesota and the project. “And with anoninvasive technique , “he adds. That is, it has not required any intrusion into the body than invasive techniques typically require surgical interventions that allow access to the cerebral cortex.

A flight of four minutes

Five subjects were tested. They were asked, once placed on his head a cap equipped with 64 electrodes, to imagine themselves using his right hand, his left hand and both at once. These thoughts were recorded by the helicopter hat and sent via Wifi , who watched on a screen in front of them. The helicopter ascending, descending and turns performed by the subject’s will .

After several tests to become familiar with the controls, these ‘drivers’ neural and were able to fly with ease and even dodge objects or through hoops. One of them managed to make a nonstop flight up to 4 minutesbefore touching one of the walls had to dodge objects.

The researchers measured the efficiency of flights to pass these obstacles and compared with a flight operated by remote control. Any flight of the latter mode could cross up to 12 rings in 4 minutes. However, the flights moved by the brain only three. The results may seem unsatisfactory, but the mere fact that they have exceeded the 25.8% of the hoops overwhelmed by the remote system is a great achievement for scientists.

The developers of this project claim that their applications beyond the development of telepresence robots. They can be very useful to develop future Robts able to restore the autonomy of people with paralysis(either stroke or any accident), and help improve the lives of people with neurodegenerative disorders. “Our next goal is to control robotic arms using noninvasive brain signals , “says Professor He. “This experiment can have a dramatic impact on the quality of life of people , “he concludes.


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