We have seen thought-controlled bionic legs and an object 3D-printed using brain waves, but now researchers have developed the world’s first remote-controlled helicopter that is powered entirely by human thought. Using a non-invasive cap that captures electrical energy generated by thinking about movement, researchers from the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Engineering in Medicine managed to fly a helicopter through an obstacle course with a 90 percent accuracy rate.

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The researchers programmed an electronic system to read signals from specific patterns of thought on an electroencephalograph, such as clenching a left fist to move left or both fists to go up. Doing nothing sends the helicopter down, BBC News reports.

Five volunteers wore a simple “cap” with 54 electrodes that taught a computer these patterns and then that was used to run the helicopter over wi-fi. Through this system, the research team was able to direct the remote-controlled helicopter through an obstacle course set up in a large gymnasium.

“The ultimate application really is to benefit disabled patients who cannot move or patients that suffer with movement disorders,” lead author Prof Bin He told the BBC. Eventually patients who suffer from neurodegenerative or other diseases can control their own wheelchairs, for example.

Via BBC News

Lead image via NITRC