Controlling the movements of a helicopter just with your mind sounds like something out of a science fiction movie, but scientists at the University of Minnesota have made it a reality. They have learnt to use their thoughts to steer a model helicopter around a gym, making it dip, rise, turn, and even fly through a ring.

Journal of Neural Engineering

The robot takes its orders from a person’s thoughts

“My entire career is to push for noninvasive 3-D brain-computer interfaces, or BCI. [Researchers elsewhere] have used a chip implanted into the brain’s motor cortex to drive movement of a cursor [across a screen] or a robotic arm. But here we have proof that a noninvasive BCI from a scalp EEG can do as well as an invasive chip.”

“Working for Dr. He has been a phenomenal experience. He has so much experience with the scientific process, and he is excellent at helping his students learn this process while allowing them room for independent work. Being an author on a first-person journal article is a huge opportunity that most undergraduates never get.”

“I think the potential for BCI is very broad. Next, we want to apply the flying robot technology to help disabled patients interact with the world. It may even help patients with conditions like stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. We’re now studying some stroke patients to see if it’ll help rewire brain circuits to bypass damaged areas.”