Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Input Devices Transportation

German Scientists Successfully Test Brain-Controlled Flight Simulator 73

Posted by timothy
from the you-may-now-turn-on-approved-neural-wetware dept.
New submitter stephendavion (2872091) writes "Scientists from the Institute for Flight System Dynamics at Technical University of Munich (TUM), Germany have demonstrated the feasibility of flying a brain-controlled aircraft. Led by professor Florian Holzapfel, the team is researching ways that brain-controlled flight works in the EU-funded project 'Brainflight'. TUM project head Tim Fricke said a long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people." So far, the tests are only simulator based, but promising.
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

German Scientists Successfully Test Brain-Controlled Flight Simulator

Comments Filter:
  • Wasn't this a movie? With monkeys or something?

  • Why not call it "Flight of fancy"? ;-) Having said that, brain control is a seriously cool idea (not in the opposite direction, though), not just for airplanes. (Prosthetic limbs sound like a more common prospective application, though.)
    • Why not call it "Flight of fancy"? ;-)

      That would be a plane painted to look like it's wearing a tuxedo. Paint some white gloves on the wingtips, spats on the tail, and all that.

  • What is brain controlled? That the mind points to where it wants to go, and the computer has to figure out how to get there without stalling, crashing into things, going into a spiral and what not?

    Because withouth knowing the concepts of aerodynamics, what exactly is the brain going to contribute?

    And what happens when the mind wanders?

    I fail to see how this is better than a touch screen interface that would turn it into a self-flying plane.

    • by kencurry (471519)
      My question also - is the brain just telling the machine "turn left"? Of course too lazy to rtfa.
    • by Baloroth (2370816)

      What is brain controlled?

      It's replacing the physical flight controls with directly brain-controlled flight controls. As to why: a large part of learning to fly (not the biggest part, certainly, but a significant piece) is learning how to use the fairly complicated controls. If you can simplify or even remove that interface, it makes the process of flying easier to learn.

      Since this is Slashdot, someone is undoubtedly going to say that that learning difficulty is a good thing, since it sets a higher bar for pilots. There may be a bi

      • Since this is Slashdot, someone is undoubtedly going to say that that learning difficulty is a good thing, since it sets a higher bar for pilots.

        I am not real sure why that would be common here on /.? Anyways, I don't think you've learned to fly yet, have you? The complicated controls are there because flying a plane is complicated. And while there is software/systems to ease these processes, the still exist. And when you have a complicated system defying gravity, I want the smartest, most knowledgeable person in the controls as possible.

        Sure, there are fuel injection systems that have replaced the carbs and take most of the work of fuel/air

    • I can't wait to see what happens when then they hook this up to the person with ADD, "Oh, A bird", crash! Possibly only Zen Masters need apply?
    • And what happens when the mind wanders?

      If you're in a Zeppelin, the piper will call you to join him.

      The end result might involve rings of smoke through the trees.

  • Clint Eastwood already did that back in the 80's

  • Yes, but... (Score:5, Funny)

    by necro81 (917438) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:34AM (#47118667) Journal
    But strangely enough, it only works if you think in Russian.

    (Movie references [1 [imdb.com]], [2 [youtube.com]], [3 [youtube.com]])
  • by Collective 0-0009 (1294662) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:40AM (#47118711)
    From TFA:

    The Germana researchers conducted flight simulator tests on seven subjects with varying levels of flight experience, including one person without any practical cockpit experience. "One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10," Fricke added. Several of the pilots who participated in the tests managed the landing approach under poor visibility, while one test pilot even landed within only few metres of the centerline.

    So out of 7 subjects, 6 with flight experience, 1 was able to follow course headings with an error of 10 degrees. That's pathetic. It's the difference between Baltimore and Washington D.C. (or worse).

    Then one was able to land within a "few meters" of the centerline... and that is touted as success? So that means most of the others couldn't hit the runway.

    GPS controls would have done better. So basically success to these guys is "subject turns head left + plane turns some direction left = success".

    It's going to be a long time before I board a 737 with this crap on the pilot's head.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by gstoddart (321705)

      So out of 7 subjects, 6 with flight experience, 1 was able to follow course headings with an error of 10 degrees. That's pathetic. It's the difference between Baltimore and Washington D.C. (or worse).

      Then one was able to land within a "few meters" of the centerline... and that is touted as success? So that means most of the others couldn't hit the runway.

      I think the point is that it worked at all. As in, it's new, in its infancy, but very promising technology.

      If you're so clever, show us your system which

      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Why have people on Slashdot started to miss the point entirely?

        Obligatory you must be new here.

      • If you're so clever, show us your system which does this. Oh, wait, you don't have one, do you?

        Shyeah right, like I'd tell you.

      • by radtea (464814)

        If you're so clever, show us your system which does this. Oh, wait, you don't have one, do you?

        Actually, I do. It's called my arms.

        I really wish people would stop using "brain controlled" for "brain plus millions of dollars of specialized machinery to replace your arms controlled". Saying something is "brain controlled" tells us nothing--it's like calling heavier-than-air flight "massive flight", or fixed-wing aircraft "aerofoil flight". The terminology does nothing to differentiate one thing from another.

        While this may seem like a trivially pedantic cavil, it has been my experience that terminology

  • "With brain control, flying, in itself, could become easier," Fricke said. "This would reduce the workload of pilots and thereby increase safety. In addition, pilots would have more freedom of movement to manage other manual tasks in the cockpit."

    How would it increase safety? Seems that you are replacing reliable manual control (often combined with autopilot) with something really finicky which requires your mind to be extremely concentrated solely on the flying task.

    • by Richy_T (111409)

      Yep. A lot of the time when you're "flying the plane", you're not really flying the plane* but doing other stuff with an occasional check back for course corrections (assuming no autopilot). The interesting stuff is usually at either end unless you're practicing maneuvers.

      *Always fly the plane.

  • by bitt3n (941736) on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:54AM (#47118823)
    This should make commercial air travel much cheaper and safer as airlines begin to do away with the single-point of failure that costly human pilots represent, implementing instead a crowd-based solution that empowers all passengers to contribute equally to guiding the plane to wherever they decide will be the flight's destination.
  • Wait, what? (Score:4, Insightful)

    by chinton (151403) <`chinton001-slashdot' `at' `gmail.com'> on Thursday May 29, 2014 @09:54AM (#47118825) Journal
    You mean up until now pilots have been flying without using their brain?!?
    • by Anonymous Coward

      This. Got a cousin who's a great pilot, and he's never said to me, "You know, I hate having to use ALL my faculties to fly this plane - what if I got rid of the decades of training of control of my limbs, supported by various autonomic responses, and instead had to VERY CAREFULLY THINK about which way I wanted to go? That would be just great, because so many thousands of air crashes have been the result of thinking perfectly yet time taken to communicate with the hand/foot delaying reaction by a few millise

  • Call me when this helps get my LUGGAGE to the same airport as me.
  • Wasn't there an Airwolf episode where they were walking through Archangel's lab workspace, and some researcher was controlling a model plane with his mind?

    Or maybe I'm thinking of an old Knight Rider episode.

  • The summary states that the goal of this is to make flying accessible to more people. Does that mean the research is being done so quadriplegics can still pilot a plane or is it for John Q. Public? Each raises its own question.

    For quadriplegics and other people with disabilities, is there really a high demand for this? Are there large numbers of disabled people who the necessary knowledge to pilot a plane? For John Q. Public, wouldn't they still need to know how to fly? Flying is about more than just con

    • by nukenerd (172703)

      The summary states that the goal of this is to make flying accessible to more people. Does that mean the research is being done so quadriplegics can still pilot a plane or is it for John Q. Public?

      It is supposed to be for the quadriplegics. By throwing that into the hype they hope to get the funding. It's bollocks; what prevents flying being "accessible" (the funding trigger word) is the cost of it. Here in the UK I don't suppose more than one person in 10,000 could afford their own plane, and the concept of owning or hiring a plane does not even ever enter most people's minds. I just once knew someone who took a few flying lessons.

      Furthermore, for reasons never explained, disabled people are

      • Agreed. If he wants to make flying more accessible, they need to figure out how to reduce the cost of designing, prototyping, certifying, manufacturing, and maintaining airplanes. If you have a wife and kids, and make less that $200k a year, it's doubtful you own an airplane. That's what makes it in-accessible.
  • a long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people

    If people have problems driving without distractions, imagine if the car went where they were thinking/looking.... Now let them do it in 3 dimensions.....
    What could possibly go wrong?

    • a long-term vision of the project is to make flying accessible to more people

      If people have problems driving without distractions, imagine if the car went where they were thinking/looking.... Now let them do it in 3 dimensions.....
      What could possibly go wrong?

      Attractive Blondes car insurance rates would go through the roof!

  • (Muses to self...) "Gee, I hope I don't have to eject..." "YEEEEEE!!!"

  • Given the approach, the listed "successes" are no wonder.

    This EEG-based stuff typically works on the so-called P300 response, i.e., the fact that 300ms after(!) thinking something you can measure a response in the brain waves, if you just look closely enough.

    Unfortunately, that's not only horrible laggish, but also not really precise. For more complex tasks like easy games like train simulators you already end up having positive interpretation in the range of 48% to 52% (so closely centered around guessing

  • After getting a drone aloft, scientists released control of the drone to each test subject and asked them to use their mental powers to drive the drone "right into the ground". Scientists' exuberance became more and more frenetic as each test subject flawlessly performed the assigned task.

FORTH IF HONK THEN

Working...