While the more pedantic among us would argue that every plane is controlled by our brains, German researchers at the Technische Universität München and the TU Berlin have created a plane that eschews all the messy, meaty bits (your head, your hands) that sit between the brain and the plane.
Called Brainflight, the EU-funded project aims to prove that brain-controlled flight is possible and has already demonstrated that even pilots with little or no experience can easily fly using a direct brain interface. Obviously these novice pilots were “going up” in simulators, but the idea is the same.
The scientists have logged their first breakthrough: They succeeded in demonstrating that brain-controlled flight is indeed possible – with amazing precision. Seven subjects took part in the flight simulator tests. They had varying levels of flight experience, including one person without any practical cockpit experience whatsoever. The accuracy with which the test subjects stayed on course by merely thinking commands would have sufficed, in part, to fulfill the requirements of a flying license test. “One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees,” reports Fricke. Several of the subjects also managed the landing approach under poor visibility. One test pilot even landed within only few meters of the centerline.
The project, headed up by Professor Florian Holzapfel, aims to allow the average person to fly a plane without much prior training.
“A long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people,” said engineer Tim Fricke in a release. “With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier.”
There’s no word on availability or further implementation possibilities but the team will show off their system in September at the “Deutscher Luft- ind Raumfahrtkongress.” I, for one, welcome our brain-controlled flying robotic overlords.