Researchers: Thoughts used to control airplanes on the horizon

The test subjects stayed on course using only their thoughts and used no hands or feet to direct the plane.
By Alex Cukan   |   May 27, 2014 at 5:10 PM   |   Comments

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MUNICH, Germany, May 27 (UPI) -- In the future, pilots may be able to direct a plane by only thinking of the commands and not using their hands, researchers in Germany say.

Professor Florian Holzapfel of the Institute for Flight System Dynamics of the Technische Universitat Munchen and colleagues at TU Berlin said they tested pilots wearing a white cap with attached cables. The brain waves of the pilots were measured using electroencephalography electrodes connected to the cap.

An algorithm developed by scientists from Team Physiological Parameters for Adaptation of the Technische Universitat Berlin provided the program to decipher electrical potentials and convert them into useful control commands.

The researchers tested seven subjects with varying levels of flight experience using flight simulators.

The test subjects stayed on course using only their thoughts and used no hands or feet to direct the plane. The test subjects would have been accurate enough to fulfill the requirements of a flying test.

"With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier," aerospace engineer Tim Fricke, the head the project at Technische Universitat Munchen, said in a statement.

"This would reduce the work load of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit."

The researchers are scheduled to present their findings at the end of September at the Deutscher Luft- und Raumfahrtkongress.

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