Professor Bin He from the University of Minnesota is working with students from the College of Science and Engineering on a kick-ass remote-controlled robot concept. It's a quadcopter with a nose-mounted camera that moves on command. Thought command, that is.
To make it work the team designed a "brain-computer interface" that keeps communication between the user, computer and robot, allowing for seamless, thought-controlled fun. The downside is that the controller has to wear an EEG cap — not exactly fashionable, but totally worth it, we've decided.
The copter can turn, move up and down, and even do "tricks" like flying through hoops based on the cap wearer's thoughts. So, if the controller thinks about making a fist with his or her right hand — BAM! — the copter turns right. And if it's two fists simultaneously, the robot will fly upward.
When the user imagines making a movement, neurons in the brain create currents that the EEG cap detects. These signals are then sent to the computer, which translates the thought into a command and sends it to the quadcopter via Wi-Fi.
Bin He and his team are currently looking at practical applications for their thought-control technology. Individuals with limited to no mobility might be able to operate a wheelchair or use a prosthetic like never before.
We know that this isn't a totally new idea, but it's promising to watch these students maneuver a robot around a room without moving a muscle. Check out the awesomeness in the video below.