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Chinese scientists develop mind-controlled drone

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HANGZHOU, China — Chinese scientists have developed a quadcopter drone that responds to brain signals in an effort to help disabled people, although the technology is hoped to have applications in other fields, as well.

Researchers at Zhejiang University in Hangzhou demonstrate in a YouTube video how the system works. An EEG headset sends commands via Bluetooth to a laptop, which sends the commands to the quadcopter via WiFi.

The drone, called Flying Buddy 2, is piloted by thinking "left hard" to take off or land, "left" to rotate clockwise, "right" to fly forward and "push" to fly up. The user can steer it downward by clenching his teeth and take photos and video by blinking.

Chinese scientists develop mind-controlled drone

Students who helped develop the technology are hoping it can be used to help disabled people interact with the world around them, such as by using the drone to gain a birds-eye view of flowers in a tree.

"Maybe one day in the future, disabled people can use brain (control) to drive a plane in which they are seated, and go anywhere they want to go," the video concludes.

Others are already looking at gaming opportunities for the technology, which is shone in the video battling with a remote-controlled drone.

The system is in the prototype stages and will be presented next week at the Ubicomp ubiquitous computing conference in Pittsburgh.

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Stephanie Grimes


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