Students at the University of Florida just held the world’s very first drone race in which the drones are flown using mind control (instead of the typical handheld controller). It’s not your typical race with high-speed drones whizzing around a warehouse at 50mph, because the technology’s not quite there yet, but this is still one of the most trippy things I’ve ever seen.
The race took place last Friday at the University of Florida (in Gainesville), and participants were hooked up to a BCI (or brain-computer interface). This allowed them to direct the drones to move forward, or to the side, using electrical patterns in their brains directing the drones to do so. If this isn’t proof that THE FUTURE IS NOW then I don’t know what is:
The brain drone race is the first of its kind, according to Juan Gilbert, a professor of computer science at the University of Florida where the competition took place. The race works by fitting pilots with a Brain Computer Interface device, which sits on users’ heads and measures electrical signals from the brain. Users “think forward,” to move the drone forward, and “think right or left” to move it from side to side.
“We learn to navigate the drone based on brain patterns for specific things you are thinking about,” Gilbert said.
A total of 16 pilots participated in the competition using this brain computer interface technology. Students involved said they are working to make users more comfortable with the brain-reading technology. In the past, EEG headsets have been used for everything from helping paralyzed people gain more autonomy to video games and meditation. Some privacy advocates have expressed concern that someday we will be able to be identified by our “brain prints.”
Let’s check out those UF students controlling the drones with brain power once more using animated GIF, shall we?
You have to hand it to UF, this is totally badass, even if it’s not high speed drone racing. If you’re a student at the University of Florida I’d have to imagine that you’re trying to get in on this ASAP, because why wouldn’t you be?