Flying with your thoughts

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André Oliviveira

André Oliveira

Head of Research and Developemnt at Tekever Lisbon 

TECHNOLOGIST What is project Brainflight?

ANDRÉ OLIVEIRA We wanted to test if and how the human brain can control an aircraft. Currently, we are performing live flight tests where “pilots” wearing an EEG cap control a drone’s direction, while its automatic steering system manages the rest. Ultimately, we hope the pilots will be able to control all aspects of flying the drone, but that might be too difficult – we don’t know yet.

TECHNOLOGIST How did you do it?

ANDRÉ OLIVEIRA Together with people from the Champallimaud Foundation, the Technical University Munich (TUM) and EagleScience, we’ve designed a system in which an algorithm converts EEG measurements of the pilots’ brainwaves into drone commands. The pilots learn how to create the right brainwaves to control the drone by receiving online feedback.

TECHNOLOGIST What’s the ultimate goal?

ANDRÉ OLIVEIRA We believe Brainflight will mainly benefit pilots. It would make their job much easier if they could handle part of the steering by using sheer thoughts, while keeping their hands free for other tasks. The technology might also help disabled people by improving prosthetics control and mobility.

TECHNOLOGIST Will we control cars and planes by thought anytime soon?

ANDRÉ OLIVEIRA We’re probably still more than 10 years away. Even if someday brain control works on everybody, we’d still need to demonstrate to authorities that the techno­logy is safe.

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