Brain-Controlled Flight Demonstrated
In a number of movies and television shows, some incident on a plane leads to someone scrambling to grab the stick and take control, to avert otherwise certain death. Though the control sticks may never vanish, the image of pilots using them might. Researchers at the Technische Universitaet Muenchen have recently succeeded in demonstrating that people can pilot a plane with just their minds.
Brainflight is a European Union funded project intended to give more people the ability to fly airplanes. To do this, instead of being trained how to use the physical controls, the people will just think about what they want the plane to do. The associated brain impulses are captured by EEG electrodes and processed through an algorithm to make them proper commands. Now the system has been successfully tested for the first time, and with great precision. The tested used seven people with different amounts of experience, with one person having no experience to speak of. Despite that, they performed well enough to actually pass at least part of a flying license test.
While this is definitely a major step towards directly controlling airplanes with our minds, there is still a great deal of work to do. Among the issues to address is the lack of tactile feedback, which pilots will receive from the stick, providing them with needed information on how much load is actually on the aircraft.
Source: Technische Universität München