The military will soon control swarms of drones with their minds

The military will soon control swarms of drones with their minds

By Lauren Tousignant July 13, 2016 | 11:03am

A new age of warfare is near — and it’s a situation of mind over matter.

Panagiotis Artemiadis, the director of the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab at Arizona State University, is developing technology that allows a person to control multiple drones using wavelengths generated by his brain.

“I have been working on brain control interfaces and human robot interactions for many years now,” Artemiadis, who’s also an assistant professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering, told The Post.

His previous research focused on the mind control of a single machine, such as a robotic prosthetic hand or arm.

“About two years ago I thought of doing the next step: many robots,” he said.

A PhD student wearing a skin-tight cap hooked up to 128 electrodes demonstrated the technology in a video uploaded by ASU.

“We’re using advanced algorithms to decipher what the person is thinking,” the student says. Those signals are then communicated to the robots.

In 2014, the lab was awarded $860,000 from the Defense Advanced Research Projects and Agency and the US Air Force in order to build the mind-bending technology.

“Ten or 20 years from now, instead of having big expensive aircraft or drones, you can have hundreds or thousands of inexpensive ones you deploy in an area,” Artemiadis told the Washington Post.

So far, an operator can only control four drones, according to the paper. But researchers hope to get one person to control as many 20 and, eventually, hundreds. Surprisingly, the operator would only need about 20-30 minutes training.

The application goes far beyond militant. Artemiadis says the technology could service search and rescue missions, first aid delivery and reach inaccessible areas for surveillance.


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