How cool would it be if you had a whole plane to yourself and you don’t even need to lift a finger to control it?
The idea of human beings controlling the flight of an airplane with their thoughts is both fascinating and troubling at the same time.
The seemingly telekinetic power can be achieved by extracting data from the activity of neurons in order to control an electronic device.
The funny-looking cap, adorned by the pilot in the picture, contains electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes. They enable the cap to read electrical signals from their brains. An algorithm then translates these signals into computer commands.
The Institute for Flight System Dynamics of the Technische Universität München (TUM) has carried out tests, which, according to their press release, have ended in a breakthrough. Seven subjects, with varying levels of flight experience, took part in flight simulator tests. One of them did not have any practical cockpit experience whatsoever.
According to the Institute, the results indicated that brain-controlled flight is possible “with amazing precision”. Moreover, the test pilots used their thoughts to fly with enough accuracy to partly fulfill the requirements of a flying license test.
According to the head of the project Tim Fricke, "A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people. With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier. 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 research is part of an EU-funded program called Brainflight.