UTC researching brainwave controlled drones
UTC researchers are testing the limits of how drones operate.
UTC researchers are testing the limits of how drones operate. They are striving to control drone movements using brainwaves.
While there are a variety of experiments being done to figure out how to control drones. UTC is looking to operate one or more drones by using thought patterns.
While attending the University of Texas at San Antonio, Dr. Zach Ruble, who is now a Post-Doctoral Reseach Fellow at UTC, began working on a project where he attempted to monitor a soldier’s mental health by watching their brainwaves. Now, at UTC, his goal is to use that same idea to get this drone off the ground using only a simple thought.
“We are trying to get it away from not training so much, so we can basically go from any demographic person and be able to put this hat on and be able to think and then control it,” Dr. Ruble said.
So far, the idea is to analyze brainwaves as a person is thinking about doing any given motion. Once they that pattern is found, researchers will turn those motions into prompt commands and, through this hat, allow the subject to fly a drone.
“If we look at the motor cortex, we can tell a difference between right-hand movement or left-hand movement; then we can actually say "hey" when I have to do something specific when we move our right hand or left hand,” Dr. Ruble said.
Undergraduate researcher Tony Ferguson demonstrated the work so far. He closes his eyes, and within a second, the drone is off the ground.
Ferguson says this type of work is more valuable than sitting in a class where there's always a perfect solution to a problem.
“There may not be the ideal solution that you find, so working on something like this is giving me the opportunity to become a real problem, encounter a real problem and try to tackle that problem as best I can,” Troy Ferguson, an undergraduate researcher at UTC, said
Ferguson has served in the Marine Corps and says this type of machinery would be useful in the field because a soldier could use the drone without taking a hand off their weapon.
“If you can do it autonomously, or you can do it with one hand or give one hand gesture to do a series of commands on the better,” Ferguson said
Right now Dr. Ruble says there's no definite timeline for this project because the brain is so complex, and completion will also depend on funding. Dr. Ruble also says this type of research is great for the university because it's exciting and gets more people interested in the program.