University of Minnesota scientists demonstrate unprecedented mind-controlled drone [VIDEO]

Categories: Technology, U of M
Scientists say the technology could help people control wheelchairs and prosthetic limbs, among other applications.
A team of scientists and graduate students at the University of Minnesota recently demonstrated a mind-controlled drone that is propelled in different directions by nothing more than brain signals.

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As reported by a Smithsonian blog, pilots wore a non-invasive helmet studded with electrodes detecting "electrical activity in different parts of the brain near the scalp, effectively reading their minds." Five undergraduates with minimal training were able to fly the drone through hoops with a high degree of accuracy.

The brain signals are sent to a computer, which then beams them up to the drone. In order to facilitate brain signals that would move the aircraft accurately, pilots were told to clench their right first when they wanted to send the drone right, clench their left when trying to send it left, and to clench both to gain elevation.

According to a U of M paper summarizing the demonstration and the technology that made it possible, pilots were able to navigate 90 percent of targets accurately.

The U of M team previously developed a virtual helicopter that could be controlled by brain signals, but according to the Smithsonian, this latest project represents "the first time a flight vehicle has been steered entirely by thought."

Here's a U of M video showing the drone in action and explaining more about the mechanics behind mind-controlled flight:

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at

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