Beta
×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Quadcopter Guided By Thought — Accurately

Unknown Lamer posted about a year ago | from the no-one-expected-the-hawking-quadcopter-attack dept.

Input Devices 79

ananyo writes "A toy quadcopter can be steered through an obstacle course by thought alone. The aircraft's pilot operates it remotely using a cap of electrodes to detect brainwaves that are translated into commands. Ultimately, the developers of the mind-controlled copter hope to adapt their technology for directing artificial robotic limbs and other medical devices." From the paper (PDF) abstract: "... we report a novel experiment of BCI controlling a robotic quadcopter in three-dimensional (3D) physical space using noninvasive scalp electroencephalogram (EEG) in human subjects. We then quantify the performance of this system using metrics suitable for asynchronous BCI. Lastly, we examine the impact that the operation of a real world device has on subjects’ control in comparison to a 2D virtual cursor task. Approach. ... Individual subjects were able to accurately acquire up to 90.5% of all valid targets presented while traveling at an average straight-line speed of 0.69 m s^(1)." This also appears to be the first time a Brain-Computer Interface was used to operate a flying device in 3D space. Also, there are several additional videos showing people operating the quadcopter.

Sorry! There are no comments related to the filter you selected.

Did they have to think in German? (3, Funny)

xtal (49134) | about a year ago | (#43913645)

-nt-

Re:Did they have to think in German? (3, Funny)

Hypotensive (2836435) | about a year ago | (#43913711)

Russian. [imdb.com]

Re:Did they have to think in German? (1)

alexhs (877055) | about a year ago | (#43915131)

German [wikiquote.org] . But you can switch to Japanese if you prefer.

Re:Did they have to think in German? (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43915141)

My vote for the original Firefox.

Re:Did they have to think in German? (1)

arielCo (995647) | about a year ago | (#43915563)

Anfang des Nervenanschlusses, bestätigt. Strüdel ... bratwurst ...

The future lament of pilots (3, Funny)

cold fjord (826450) | about a year ago | (#43913683)

Do what I say, not what I think!! (At least not that particular thought.)

Re:The future lament of pilots (4, Funny)

Motard (1553251) | about a year ago | (#43915161)

Squirrel!!! *crash*

Do you have to think in russian? (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913687)

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0083943 :)

Re:Do you have to think in russian? (1)

click2005 (921437) | about a year ago | (#43914793)

You laugh but I'd love to see a TV show of teams fighting each other with these in a laser tag arena.

Re:Do you have to think in russian? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915807)

You laugh but I'd love to see a TV show of teams fighting each other with these in a laser tag arena.

Let's make it more interesting- glue razor blades around the perimeter of each quad and give every participant a hit of acid before the game.

SO COOL (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43913729)

Really gotta get myself an EEG headset sometime...I wonder what other signals it could be tuned to pick up? What happens if you think about moving a nonexistant limb, would anything happen? That could free up your hands and feet and let you control other things with your mind.

Re:SO COOL (5, Informative)

Aguazul2 (2591049) | about a year ago | (#43913831)

Really gotta get myself an EEG headset sometime...I wonder what other signals it could be tuned to pick up?

Okay, then get ready for lots of goo. You need conductive paste for any kind of serious work. Also, there is the small matter of your skull getting in the way of the signals -- like listening to a symphony through ear protectors.

(I was involved in the OpenEEG project for a time -- dreams of an efficient BCI (brain-computer interface) to beat my keyboard as an input device were soon shattered.)

Re:SO COOL (1)

GameboyRMH (1153867) | about a year ago | (#43914061)

Aw man I was really hoping the paste problem had been overcome :-(

Still I'd consider something more invasive if it were useful and futureproof enough.

Re:SO COOL (2)

cffrost (885375) | about a year ago | (#43914189)

Really gotta get myself an EEG headset sometime...I wonder what other signals it could be tuned to pick up?

Okay, then get ready for lots of goo. [...]

Up to here I thought we were about to start talking about EEG-controlled fuckbots. :o(

Re:SO COOL (2)

fractoid (1076465) | about a year ago | (#43914041)

The one they were using looked pretty funky, I wonder what the difference in performance is between that one and the cheapie toy ones you can get commercially? The Emotiv Epoc is $300 and apparently (with some hackery) can get you the EEG outputs that you usually have to buy the $700 one for.

I can't help wondering where exactly this is on the scale between actually picking up specific thoughts (or at least muscle intentions) and just using some global clock signal (like that one that detected the change in theta waves or whatnot when you opened/closed your eyes).

Re:SO COOL (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914481)

I can't help wondering where exactly this is on the scale between actually picking up specific thoughts (or at least muscle intentions) and just using some global clock signal (like that one that detected the change in theta waves or whatnot when you opened/closed your eyes).

Basically what you do is train the software to react to certain patterns of neural activity which you produce intentionally. You could, for example, punch yourself in the left eye and tell the computer you want the resulting pattern to indicate "fly left", then you could have someone kick you in the balls and that pattern mean "fly up", and so on.
It's not actually reading thoughts or directly reacting to them, although you could theoretically train the system to simulate that.

Re:SO COOL (1)

Blaskowicz (634489) | about a year ago | (#43914885)

Thinking about moving an nonexistent limb is something that would happen naturally.. if that limb was cut off. If you really want a "third hand" controlled by motor nerve impulse (which is probably quite different that an EEG, and which is what I understand by "think about a limb") it would require extensive and long training, I think, like people learning to walk again. Or you would have to do this at a very young age and it would be nearly impossible with an adult brain (dunno).

Re:SO COOL (1)

Em Adespoton (792954) | about a year ago | (#43917225)

Agreed; easier to link the signal to something else you can control in thought that doesn't distract too much; sub-vocalization of specific words would probably do the trick (although you couldn't talk while doing that) or linking it to imagining yourself floating, falling rising, going left, etc (which would be an extremely weak signal for an EEG to relay in any meaningful way).

Re:SO COOL (2)

t4ng* (1092951) | about a year ago | (#43915245)

These guys are a bit late to the party. The military is already providing thought controlled artificial limbs [thedianerehmshow.org] that are far more complex than a quad-copter.

Better idea... (3, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913753)

Screw the drone, hook him up to Quake 3 and lets see him pull off some sweet strafejumps...that'll be a better benchmark :D

Also i'm thinking that perhaps they should focus more on feedback. If visual feedback is the only thing he gets, especially with the delay, it'll take him a lot longer than if he had say, rumblepack belts attached to him which gave feedback on direction, tilt, speed etc.

Straight Up! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43913757)

That is fucking fantastic!

And the videos are a year old.

A natural progression (1)

jellomizer (103300) | about a year ago | (#43913807)

I can see this as a natural progression.
First we have direct brain control for very basic, then it gets more detailed. Finally we can get to less invasive methods of monitoring the brain activity.
Once we get that good, I could see getting more details for more finer type of movements. After we get a good map of the movement sectors of the brain, we may want to scan other sections such a vision we we can record what we see, or hearing. Perhaps we could scan our language processing areas and make real time interpreting software. Or allow us to send complex commands by though.

Re:A natural progression (5, Informative)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43914621)

You're thinking about this the wrong way. Most of these systems are like training your brain how to walk again after a serious trauma. You just hook up electrodes to a patch of cortex and come up with some unique brain pattern that you will use as a trigger for a certain task. You program the computer to respond to that pattern, providing a feedback response. Using the feedback, you train your brain to more accurately produce that pattern, while you simultaneously tune the computer to pick up on the evolving pattern. These are not the kinds of things you just plug in and go, they take considerable time and effort to make work for each individual.

Re:A natural progression (1)

theIsovist (1348209) | about a year ago | (#43916055)

The fact that you have to learn how to produce these patterns makes me wonder what would happen if you "attached" these to a very young infant. From what I have read, their brains are wiring themselves based off of responses to their actions. I wonder if the thought controlled robot could become an extension of their own body if they are introduced to it at a very young age. I imagine it's harder to learn to control these actions once your brain has a basic understanding of what does what, hence the learning curve.

Re:A natural progression (1)

MozeeToby (1163751) | about a year ago | (#43916415)

From what I have read, their brains are wiring themselves based off of responses to their actions.

So is yours. This idea that infants are unique in the way they learn doesn't do the adult brain justice. My daughter has been teaching herself English via total immersion for 2 years (with of course, help from mom and dad and everyone else around her) I could match her progress in some other language in a matter of weeks (thanks largely to the enormously complex framework that my mind already contains).

The point is, you have a lot of tools at your disposal that the infant doesn't. You know what your goal is, you want to the quad copter to move up, for example. You will get excited and gratified when it happens, which helps the feedback look get established. Infants, on the other hand, spend lots of time just doing stuff, and watching what happens. They are building relationships between thought and action but they are doing it in a very haphazard way.

Re:A natural progression (1)

JTsyo (1338447) | about a year ago | (#43916693)

Trouble with that is that the infant wouldn't know to try to use it. So you would have to just pick arbitrary commands for the computer to watch for. The infant might never think them or even if he does, he might not realize the link. Think of it as recording a marco, you need to do it the first time before you can use it.

Re:A natural progression (1)

dinfinity (2300094) | about a year ago | (#43916851)

Yes. As is visible in the video, the amount of control the user actually has is deplorable.
The whole obstacle course looks nice, but the copter is never actually shown to do anything in it for more than 0.5s. And that is with a thoroughly trained system.

Re:A natural progression (1)

andydouble07 (2344014) | about a year ago | (#43917651)

Thankfully my brain hasn't yet learned to walk, that sounds like it could cause some serious problems.

Or maybe it's already been done... (3, Informative)

t4ng* (1092951) | about a year ago | (#43915303)

The Modular Prosthetic Limb [jhuapl.edu] , developed by the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory with funding from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency provides 26 degrees of motion, including independent movement of each finger, in a package that weighs about nine pounds and has the dexterity of a natural limb. In 2012, a patient at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center successfully demonstrated that the arm could be controlled by the user’s thoughts. Several patients, including a decorated Afghanistan war hero, are helping researchers further develop the prosthesis. In 2013, the MPL will continue to be tested and refined in a clinical trial at the California Institute of Technology.

Re:Or maybe it's already been done... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915671)

You mean..... someone who went to a foreign country (afghanistan) to kill peoples he don't know to achieve a goal he don't understand? Yes. he's a hero.

Re:Or maybe it's already been done... (1)

t4ng* (1092951) | about a year ago | (#43916435)

Not my words... copied from an article.

Re:Or maybe it's already been done... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43925227)

The problem with ALL prosthetic limb research is that we see a ton of very nice and very expensive prototypes, but nobody moves onto production models - which is why 60% of people who are missing an arm don't bother with a prosthetic, and of those who do, the majority use a design developed by the army back in the 60s.

The Hand (1)

fredrated (639554) | about a year ago | (#43913929)

Personally I think the hand is still the best tool we have to do physical manipulation. That is what it was designed for and it is excellent. Since we don't use our 'minds' to move objects normally, I think the hand, or a hand-guided tool, will always be the best.

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914105)

I can relay complex, nuanced thoughts via my mouth a lot faster than I can with my hands. And I am a fairly decent typist.

You may be correct, but I would like to think that a sophisticated system used by a person trained frequently and at an early age would be superior to hand guided movement.

Re:The Hand (2)

ElectricTurtle (1171201) | about a year ago | (#43914211)

Luckily there are people who are not as narrow-minded as you to move us forward.

1) Not everybody has hands or control over them. Technology like this will be priceless for amputees and people with muscular or other degenerative diseases.

2) This is a first generation technology, as systems like this are refined, they can potentially exceed the range of our physical control through cutting response time and scaling up the "granularity" of control while eliminating "interference" (e.g. the involuntary shaking of muscles).

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914309)

> 2) This is a first generation technology, as systems like this are refined, they can potentially exceed the range of our physical control through cutting response time and scaling up the "granularity" of control while eliminating "interference" (e.g. the involuntary shaking of muscles).

Not with skin electrodes, and not without sensor electrodes laced into the nervous system at a very high resolution. The closest approach to anything like that was David Edell's work at MIT, and for that approach, you have to transect the nerve and let neurons grow back through the semiconductor array. This is *not* recommended for direct brain interfaces!!!!

Skin electrodes pick up ridiculous amounts of electrical noise, no matter where you put them. Digital processing *does not help*, because the signal is so noisy in the first place and the very act of digital sampling for any modern A/D converter throws away critical edge detection information. So no, adding computers does not fix the problem.

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914357)

> We don't use our 'minds' to move objects ???

Our 'mind' (why the quotes?) sends the movement information to the hand. Since there are no neurons in the hand, I'm pretty sure the mind has to break down the desired result into a series of complicated commands designed for each muscle group and adjust them with the returning feedback until the desired result is achieved. It would be MUCH easier for your brain to just send the desired result command to an intelligent, mechanical appendage that would take care of achieving the desired result within its own feedback loop.

Think beyond two hands. What about four extra arms, all intelligently independent, yet obeying your commands without you having to pay attention to the detailed breakdowns? Much easier than having to control all of them. What could possibly go wrong?

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915327)

Since there are no neurons in the hand,

You may want to consider retaking junior high biology.

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914831)

1) How about we get off our asses and figure out BIOLOGY?! A salamander can regrow its limbs, why can't we?

2) First generation? I've seen stunts like these for 20 years in various electronics hobbyists magazines.

Re:The Hand (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914587)

Personally I think the hand is still the best tool we have to do physical manipulation. That is what it was designed for and it is excellent. Since we don't use our 'minds' to move objects normally, I think the hand, or a hand-guided tool, will always be the best.

Your hand wasn't designed for anything, it evolved. And it moves because your mind told it to. The point is that there is no such thing as a "hand guided" tool, because your hand isn't guiding anything it's your brain doing the guiding.

Re:The Hand (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43914641)

You know, you use your "mind" to control your hands, right?

Re:The Hand (1)

GodfatherofSoul (174979) | about a year ago | (#43915171)

Ten thousand years ago, I bet you would've been that caveman skeptic crapping all over Grog's new fandangled "wheel."

Re:The Hand (2)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about a year ago | (#43915973)

Ten thousand years ago, I bet you would've been that caveman skeptic crapping all over Grog's new fandangled "wheel."

Grog wheel no good! Look, it go 'round and 'round; it start here and then come back here! How that work? Thog no want go 'round; Thog want go places! Grog wheel stupid.

And what good Grog wheel? Thog want go somewhere, Thog walk. Thog want go somewhere faster, Thog run!

Grog say wheel help carry heavy thing, but Grog wheel made of stone; Grog wheel /is/ heavy! Thog need wheel just to carry wheel, ha-ha!

Grog wheel stupid; Thog no need and no want. Almost as bad as Mog fire-thing. Who want all that smoke and burnt meat?

Cool (1)

DeathToBill (601486) | about a year ago | (#43913987)

Now to hook this up to my flying car...

What if... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914079)

Go and scare him!

America fuck yeah! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914131)

Rest of world, are you even trying?

A cat version please (1)

temcat (873475) | about a year ago | (#43914143)

All this is fine, but can they make a version controllable by cat's thought?

Re:A cat version please (1)

kurt555gs (309278) | about a year ago | (#43914195)

Cats will then control the world. Be careful what you wish for.

Re:A cat version please (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914297)

I think I have already. They both just lie there and both have an irregular tendency of making an interesting muffled grinding noise without going anywhere.

Re:A cat version please (1)

meowgoesthecat (2872191) | about a year ago | (#43914421)

That sounds excellent.

Re:A cat version please (1)

tgd (2822) | about a year ago | (#43914445)

All this is fine, but can they make a version controllable by cat's thought?

I saw the subject of your post and thought you were looking for one you can use to control a cat.

At 4am, that is something I'd find very useful.

Re:A cat version please (1)

StuartHankins (1020819) | about a year ago | (#43914845)

Oh! We're all going to die when that happens...

Re:A cat version please (2)

Somebody Is Using My (985418) | about a year ago | (#43916025)

All this is fine, but can they make a version controllable by cat's thought?

Shouldn't be too hard; they can modify the already-existing thought-control mechanism* used by felines to control their bipedal drones.

Cat glances meaningfully at food bowl. "Hungry"
Human gets up and puts food in bowl.
Cat rolls over on back and thinks "Rub"
Human stops what he is doing and dutifully scrubs the inviting tummy.

* may not be compatible with all drones.

Half second phase delay (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914265)

The roughly 500 msec phase delay from having to average the very noisy electrical signals detectable on the skin into a valid, usable motor controller was the failing point of the Boston Arm, and seems to be the problem of this system as well. It's just not going to be as quick as something that's tied directly to the physical neural structure and signal processing built into normal nerve-muscle interfaces, which are specific, complex, adaptive, and generated in a physical 3-D structure with its own processing capabilites.

But it's fun to play with my-electric or other skin sensor based systems.

What happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914329)

So what happens when a beautiful woman walks in and his thoughts jump to "BOOBS"?

Re:What happens (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914725)

So what happens when a beautiful woman walks in and his thoughts jump to "BOOBS"?

Nothing. These don't read your thoughts, they pick up on general patterns of electrical activity. The only way thinking "BOOBS" will do anything is if you train the system to react to the specific neural pattern generated when you think "BOOBS". And they aren't that precise, not by a long shot.

Captcha: Boners

Parrot automatic correction (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#43914379)

As can be seen, the drone used is a Parrot.
The Parrot has pretty insane automatic correction so that it always stays stable and make smooth turns.

Try moving like that while controlling the drone directly.

They forgot one thing (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914435)

You should temporarily paralyze the muscles when testing. Otherwise you end up building control via invisible micromuscle movements of the scalp muscles and muscles in the jaw, chins, et cetera. You have to make sure only the mind moves!

Quad? (1)

pla (258480) | about a year ago | (#43914441)

Now make it available to "pilot" quadruplegic people.

The military already has basic mech-suits. Combine it with a functional BCI, and we've effectively made one of the most horrific of human injuries a mere nuisance.

That said, as an able-bodied person, I'll still gladly take a few BCI-enabled toys - When can I get one of these?

Re:Quad? (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about a year ago | (#43914669)

I'm just imagining what this might do for say, MC Hawking [xania.org] - I mean, you think that guy is badass now, we could turn him into Iron Man.

Re:Quad? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | about a year ago | (#43915119)

...we could turn him into Iron Man.

So could a lost wax metal cast, mind you.

Re:Quad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915709)

I imagine make it available to "pilot" my dick into your ass.

Re:Quad? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915849)

That would require you to have one, fellow Anonymous Coward.

Go University of Minnesota! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43914505)

Amazing work. If I was still a student, I'd start looking up the references in the paper - which, BTW is available here [iop.org] . It reminds me of how simple steps in signal processing can have such an amazing aggregate effect when applied.

if out, why not in? (0)

Connie_Lingus (317691) | about a year ago | (#43914681)

you know, electrode caps really scare the crap outta me, because its not hard to see how a device used to read your brain signals could be modified to INSERT them too. as governments and take-over-the-world types learn more and more about how the brain works, wouldnt it be a great plan to use brain-caps to control peoples actions and turn them into the true mind-numbed robots that pop culture like to report on so..

it would an interesting career to experiment with sending signals INTO the brain...for the kids, of course...

Re:if out, why not in? (1)

wagnerrp (1305589) | about a year ago | (#43914837)

because its not hard to see how a device used to read your brain signals could be modified to INSERT them too

Yes. Yes, it really is. This isn't the computer reading your mind, so much as it is your mind learning how to talk to the computer. There is a steep learning curve as your mind rewires itself to be able to produce the kinds of signals the EEG is set up to trigger off of. There is no way this could operate in reverse with our current level of technology and understanding.

Brain cancer? (1)

nrjperera (2669521) | about a year ago | (#43914685)

Wow this is impressive. Just what I needed for Christmas, a brain cancer. lol

Tim Maughan - Street Iron (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43915111)

Reminds me of the mechanic from Tim Maughan's short story "Street Iron" in his Paintwork collection, where young Cuban techies play a mech-warrior style game using the real world as their environment and control the mechs purely through mind control.

Good stuff.

Here's what I'm thinking... (0)

mholve (1101) | about a year ago | (#43915193)

Snatching pizzas out of thin air!

http://www.nbcnews.com/technology/dominos-domicopter-drone-can-deliver-two-large-pepperonis-6C10182466

1960s called (1)

tristes_tigres (952446) | about a year ago | (#43915297)

They want their "Biofeedback" fad back.

Though it could have been newsworthy, if they used Raspberry Pi in 3D-printed box to implement the control algorithms.

Ooops (1)

LeadSongDog (1120683) | about a year ago | (#43915365)

"If thoughts could ^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^H^HWhen thoughts can kill" this may not be seen as such a great idea.

I don't get it (1)

stackOVFL (1791898) | about a year ago | (#43915987)

Except for the obvious disabled folks can more stuff, why is thought control better then just using you thumbs on a joystick? Seems to me it's much harder to put on a scull cap, try to think of just one thing for a long time and so on verses picking up a controller and flying the thing. Or, do we intend to have an army amputees piloting drones in the future?

Silver Lining (1)

ThatsNotPudding (1045640) | about a year ago | (#43915995)

Far fewer idiotic public appearances by polititians and celebs - at least not without covering ack-ack.

Remote control (1)

thewils (463314) | about a year ago | (#43916509)

The person doing the controlling and the robot don't need to be in the same location...it could be that a robot could effect repairs in space controlled by a person on the ground by thought, or a surgeon could similarly control a robot to work on battlefield casualties.

Can I.. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43916943)

..use this to browse pr0n hands-free?

Squirrels beware ... (1)

fahrbot-bot (874524) | about a year ago | (#43916949)

... I'm going to hook this up to my dog.

The proper URL for the paper (PDF) (1)

jjacek (584469) | about a year ago | (#43918883)

The paper [iop.org] (PDF, 1.7MB)

Re:The proper URL for the paper (PDF) (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#43920337)

I was able to get to the article via this page [iop.org] . If the above link doesn't work.

Today it's quadcopters... (1)

readingaccount (2909349) | about a year ago | (#43920889)

... tomorrow it's Iron Man suits.

The future looks bright! And also a bit shiny.

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Login

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?