Chinese researchers develop FlyingBuddy2, a mind-controlled drone

Flying Buddy 2 drone

We can control television with our minds, so why not control a drone? In a new video, researchers at Zhejian University show off the technology that allows users to control a quadcopter, called “FlyingBuddy2,” with their mind using a headset that tracks for EEG signals.

The Chinese scientists developed the technology and drone to offer disabled people an extra “eye” in the sky. The technology uses an electroencephalogram signal (EEG) headset that is commercially available and manufactured by Australia-based Emotiv. The device, coined the EEG neuroheadset, is worn over a user’s head. Using non-invasive measures, it tracks the electrical signals firing in the brain. There are 16 tendril-like sensors that enable the owner to program and track for up to 12 different movements. The headset can reportedly also detect emotions.

To demonstrate the FlyingBuddy2’s abilities, a wheelchair-bound person wearing the Emotiv headset accomplished feats that would otherwise be impossible for disabled individuals, including viewing a flower located in an unreachable location. The drone was outfitted with a camera that constantly streams a life feed onto a laptop for its user’s viewing purposes. Bluetooth connects the EEG headset to a laptop, which then connects to the drone via Wi-Fi.

According to the video, a user can control the drone’s movements in three dimensional spaces — but the controls are a bit odd. Thinking “left hard” will signal the craft to lift off from the ground. To fly the drone downward, a user has to clench his or her teeth. Thinking about flying the craft “right” will fly the craft forward. To rotate the drone counter clockwise, the user has to think about turning “left.” To control the ascent of the drone, the users has to think about “pushing” the craft. A user can also capture pictures with the drone’s camera just by blinking.

Flying the drone, as you’ve noticed already, requires a series of mind bending commands that goes against the user’s habitual inclinations. But as with mastering anything, maneuvering the craft takes practice.

In addition to offering users a second set of eyes, the video claims that controlling the drone gives users makes the mind more nimble and precise.

Mind controlled devices are a reality and may one day rid of remote controls altogether. The FlyingBuddy2, set to be presented at the Ubiquitous Computing Conference in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, is just one step closer to an improvement in the well being of disabled users.

If you’re looking to get your hands on one, the device can be purchased for $500.

Check out the video of the drone below.

Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!
Product Review

It's not a spy, but you still won't want to friend Facebook's Portal+

Facebook has jumped into the smart home game with the Portal+, a video-calling device featuring an Amazon Alexa speaker and a screen. While it has lots of cool calling features, we’re weary of Facebook taking up counter space in our home.
Product Review

DJI has always been the king of drones, and the new Mavics are almost perfect

After flying both the Mavic 2 Pro and Mavic 2 Zoom for over a week, we’re convinced that these are two of the best drones that DJI has ever made.
Product Review

Airselfie 2 may as well be a GoPro stapled to a drunk hummingbird

On paper, the Airselfie 2 is marketed as flying photographer that fits in your pocket and snaps selfies from the sky. Unfortunately it’s more like a HandiCam controlled by a swarm of intoxicated bumblebees
Emerging Tech

Ancient crater the size of NYC discovered under the Greenland ice sheet

A huge crater has been discovered beneath the ice of Greenland, and is thought to be the result of a meteorite impact millions of years ago. The crater is one of the largest ever discovered, measuring 19 miles across.
Emerging Tech

Here’s how the InSight mission to Mars will confirm its landing to NASA

NASA's InSight mission has sent a lander to Mars. NASA researchers have now shared details on how they will monitor the touching down of the lander at the end of its 91 million mile journey.
Emerging Tech

Would you swap your keycard for a microchip implant? For many, the answer is yes

Put down your keycard! More people are turning to implanted RFID chips as their choice of workplace identification. Should we be worried about a world in which employees get microchipped?
Outdoors

‘Super magnesium’ may be the next wonder material for outdoor gear

Super Magnesium is a wonder material that is 30 percent lighter than aluminum, as strong as carbon fiber, cheaper to make, and 100-percent recyclable, making it much better for the environment.
Emerging Tech

Forget joysticks — the Guts Game is controlled by a sensor that you swallow

Researchers have created an unusual new game in which players swallow a biosensor and then compete to raise or lower the temperature in their gut. Sound crazy? Here's why it could catch on.
Emerging Tech

Step inside the Nepalese restaurant staffed by robot waiters

A robotics startup from Nepal has created a robot waiter called Ginger. It's capable of delivering food from kitchen to table, and can even engage customers in a bit of friendly banter as it does so.
Emerging Tech

Doctors could soon ditch stitches and seal skin wounds with lasers

Just like the dermal regenerator in Star Trek, physicians may soon be able to heal skin wounds using smart, laser-based technology. That's thanks to researchers from Arizona State University.
Emerging Tech

From tornado flushes to remote controls, modern toilets are flush with tech

With the global observance of World Toilet Day on November 19, we take a look at how the modern toilet in our homes and businesses have evolved, and how they are becoming smarter tools in the future.
Emerging Tech

NASA selects the all-important landing site for its Mars 2020 rover mission

NASA said on Monday that the landing site for its much-anticipated Mars 2020 rover mission has the potential to "revolutionize how we think about Mars and its ability to harbor life."
Emerging Tech

NASA’s ‘space wheat’ is helping earthbound farmers grow crops quicker

Could NASA technology for growing plants on other planets help farmers improve crop yield here on Earth? According to researchers in Australia and the U.K., the answer is a resounding yes.