Arizona State Researcher Controls Drones with His Mind

The ASU research into mind-controlled drones has been taken a step further with a recent development that is enabling a single user to operate multiple drones through thought. “There has not been a lot of research on how one single human can control multiple robots,” said Panagiotis Artemiadis, director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab at ASU.

“We started with the idea of human swarm interaction; we record it from the brain,” he said. “We actually saw that the brain really cares about collective behaviors of swarms and now we know where to record from and what to see from the brain signals in order to decode that to collective behaviors for aerial vehicles and swarms of robots.” According to university’s publication ASU Now, Artemiadis, who is also an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at ASU, has been working on linking the human brain with machines since 2009.

He has been working on mind-controlled drone swarms for the last two years with funding from the U.S. Department of Defense’s Defense Advanced Research Project Agency (DARPA), which may allude to possible military applications.

In the lab Artemiadis and his team have displayed limited mind-control of both flying and ground-based drones simultaneously. He describes a variety of possible future applications for the mixed drone teams including aerial drones landing on ground-based drones to recharge or physically transfer information too sensitive to be transmitted wirelessly or even using the aerial drones to lift ground drones across challenging environments.

According to ASU Now, Artemiadis will expand his research to include multiple swarms under the control of multiple people and sees the drones “performing complex operations, such as search-and-rescue missions.”

“The goal for the next couple of years is to actually have now a hybrid team of both ground vehicles, mobile robots and aerial vehicles—quadrotors—that will collaborate with each other,” he said. “We want to do that with tens, even go to 100 robots.”

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