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Scientists are working on the technology to control drones using their brains. While they are starting out with small helicopter drones, the eventual goal is to have soldiers control military drones like this MQ-4C Triton unmanned aircraft system (UAS), produced by Northrop Grumman.
Scientists at the University of Texas at San Antonio (UTSA) are trying to make science fiction into reality by developing a technology that would enable soldiers to remotely-control UAS with just their minds. According to International business Times, researchers at the university have recently been given two different funding grants. One is from the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) worth $300,000 to investigate the possibility of military personnel using brain signals to operate drones for surveillance, intelligence and reconnaissance missions.
The other grant, worth $400,000, has come from the US Department of Defense and has enabled the university to purchase two state-of-the-art, high performance electroencephalogram (EEG) systems, which are designed to measure brain waves.
Six professors from different departments in UTSA are working on different projects to do with studying brain-machine interaction, including Daniel Pack, chairman of electrical and computer engineering department.
“It becomes more burdensome to ask the army to carry more things,” Pack told local newspaper My San Antonio. “You have to have a computer or a mechanism that you use to control the UAS. But if you can do this without having them actually carry additional equipment, then you are helping our soldiers.”
Pack envisions soldiers one day having EEG sensors within their helmets which will enable them to direct the drones and get them to complete complicated commands. For example, a soldier could direct a drone to fly over a hill to scout for enemies using his brain waves to give the command, and then receive the data in his helmet from the drone’s camera immediately.
Of course, this is all still a long way off, and at the moment, Pack’s graduate students are comparing their ability to make a UAS turn left or right using a special cap mounted with electrodes on one student’s head, while another student issues the same command using a smartphone app.