With the help of a headset that is able to record brain bioelectrical activity, engineers were able to interpret the thoughts of the user and send the signals as orders for the drone without having to handle any console or command. Users "think forward" to move the drone forward and "think right or left" to move it from side to side. The pilot then imagines that movement, and that is when the system interprets the signal and sends it to the drone.
Mind-controlled technology is already publicly available through entrepreneurial companies such as Emotiv and NeuroSky, who sell electroencephalogram headsets for purchase online for several hundred dollars. The models Florida racers used cost about $500 each, the Associated Press reports.
Professor John Gilbert's science students organized the race, and they are now inviting other universities to organize their own brain-controlled drone racing teams by 2017.
"Drone racing gives anyone the ability to fly like a superhero," Scot Refsland, chairman of the IDRA, told Newsweek earlier this month. "Because everyone can experience the thrill of racing as if they were sitting in the drone cockpit, the sport is skyrocketing."
The use of a BCI headset in the burgeoning sport will help to bring the technology to a wider audience, according to University of Florida student Chris Crawford.
For its part, the United States Department of Defense, which already makes use of drones in counterterrorism operations, is showing interest in military solutions based on mind control. In 2014, a defense grant backed the Unmanned Systems Laboratory at the University of Texas, San Antonio, where researchers have developed a system enabling a single person with no prior training to fly multiple drones simultaneously through mind control.
[Image via Twitter]