Think tank develops thought control cockpit

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The US military laboratory that gave the world the computer mouse, GPS, and computer networking, has developed a way for pilots to control aircraft by thought.

A researcher from the US Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has created a brain-computer interface that enables a person to control a manned or remotely flown aircraft using nothing but their thoughts and a surgically implanted microchip in their brain.

The principle was demonstrated on a simulator in 2014, but now uses a two-way connection enabling the pilot to send commands and receive information about aircraft state. A pilot can control one or several aircraft this way.

‘As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,’ director of DARPA’s biological technology office, Justin Sanchez, said last week at the agency’s sixtieth anniversary D60 Symposium in Maryland, US.

‘The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain of that user [or pilot] can also perceive the environment,’ Sanchez said. ‘It’s taken a number of years to try and figure this out.’

National security publication Defence One reported his comments. ‘We’ve scaled it to three [aircraft] and have full sensory [signals] coming back. So, you can have those other planes out in the environment and then be detecting something and send that signal back into the brain,’ he said.

The technology could be used for control of prosthetic limbs, memory repair and recovery from paralysing injuries.

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