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Soon, You’ll Control Swarms of Drones With Your Mind

Soon, You’ll Control Swarms of Drones With Your Mind

Thanks to research from Arizona State University, you might soon be able to send in a whole cloud of drones to…well, let’s be honest, probably capture Pokémon. But that’s your right.

There’s just several catches. Right now, “swarm” means “four,” and you have to wear a totally unfashionable swim cap covered in electrodes attached to a computer that translates your thoughts and sends them to the drones via Bluetooth. Turns out your brain has a natural affinity for swarming, much more so than your hands:

A controller wears a skull cap outfitted with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The device records electrical brain activity. If the controller moves a hand or thinks of something, certain areas light up.

“I can see that activity from outside,” said Panagiotis Artemiadis, director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab and an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering in the School for Engineering of Matter, Transport and Energy in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering. “Our goal is to decode that activity to control variables for the robots.”

If the user is thinking about decreasing cohesion between the drones — spreading them out, in other words — “we know what part of the brain controls that thought,” Artemiadis said.

Here’s a video to demonstrate, via Science News Journal:

Air Force pilots working with Artemiadis had one big question, though: what happens if the mind wanders and thinks of, uh, something else? He says that if you’re hungry and think about pizza, it’s not going to work.

Unless, perhaps, you’re thinking about your drones swarming a pizza place. Hey, if Donatello had built them, that’s where his head would be at.

Are you ready to welcome, or become, our drone-controlling overlords? Speak below, and perhaps you will have a place in the new bio-mechanical empire to come.

Featured image: Arizona State University

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