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Brain Waves Control Drones (and potentially full scale aircraft), With DARPA Tech
Brain Waves Control Drones, With DARPA Tech
By Mary Grady , Contributing editor | September 10, 2018
A person with a microchip implant can now pilot a swarm of drones by
sending signals directly from their brain, an ability that also should
work for full-scale aircraft, according to researchers at the Defense
Advanced Research Projects Agency. The technology was discussed at a
recent symposium held by DARPA, in Maryland. “The signals from those
aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain
of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the environment,” said
Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s biological technology office.
DARPA officials at the symposium also said they have advanced the
technology so a user now can steer multiple jets at once, according to
a report from DefenseOne.com
.. Working with a paralyzed volunteer, the researchers were able to not
only send but also receive signals from the aircraft. “It’s taken a
number of years to try and figure this out,” Sanchez said. The work
builds on research from 2015, when a paralyzed woman was able to steer
a virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighter by sending signals from her brain
using only a small, surgically-implanted microchip.
It’s Now Possible To Telepathically Communicate with a Drone Swarm
In this May 31, 2013, photo, research assistant Kevin Real wears an
EEG net for detecting brain activity which is hooked up to a monitor,
at the University of Nebraska's Center for Brain, Biology and Behavior
in Lincoln, Neb.
BY PATRICK TUCKER
SEPTEMBER 6, 2018
DARPA’s new research in brain-computer interfaces is allowing a pilot
to control multiple simulated aircraft at once.
A person with a brain chip can now pilot a swarm of drones — or even
advanced fighter jets, thanks to research funded by the U.S.
military’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.
The work builds on research from 2015, which allowed a paralyzed woman
to steer a virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighter with only a small,
surgically-implantable microchip. On Thursday, agency officials
announced that they had scaled up the technology to allow a user to
steer multiple jets at once.
“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and
control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of
aircraft,” said Justin Sanchez, who directs DARPA’s biological
technology office, at the Agency’s 60th-anniversary event in Maryland.
More importantly, DARPA was able to improve the interaction between
pilot and the simulated jet to allow the operator, a paralyzed man
named Nathan, to not just send but receive signals from the craft.
“The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the
brain so that the brain of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the
environment,” said Sanchez. “It’s taken a number of years to try and
figure this out.”
In essence, it’s the difference between having a brain joystick and
having a real telepathic conversation with multiple jets or drones
about what’s going on, what threats might be flying over the horizon,
and what to do about them. “We’ve scaled it to three [aircraft], and
have full sensory [signals] coming back. So you can have those other
planes out in the environment and then be detecting something and send
that signal back into the brain,” said Sanchez.
The experiment occured a “handful of months ago,” he said.
It’s another breakthrough in the rapidly advancing field of
brain-computer interfaces, or BCIs, for a variety of purposes. The
military has been leading interesting research in the field since at
least 2007,. And in 2012, DARPA issued a $4 million grant to build a
non-invasive “synthetic telepathy” interface by placing sensors close
to the brain’s motor centers to pick up electrical signals —
non-invasively, over the skin.
But the science has advanced rapidly in recent years, allowing for
breakthroughs in brain-based communication, control of prosthetic
limbs, and even memory repair.
Patrick Tucker is technology editor for Defense One. He’s also the
author of The Naked Futu What Happens in a World That Anticipates
Your Every Move? (Current, 2014). Previously, Tucker was deputy editor
for The Futurist for nine years. Tucker has written about emerging
technology in Slate, ... FULL BIO
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