There is an airplane that can be controlled using only your brain. Seriously.
After 12 years of research from neuroscientists and engineers at Honeywell Aerospace, a six-seat Beechcraft King Air C90 was tricked out to be operated with an elastic cap housing 32 electrodes.
The “pilot,” or person wearing the cap, maneuvers the plane by focusing on a screen. The electrodes in the cap read the electrical activity in the brain and transmit that information to the plane’s control system, allowing the pilot to effectively use only their brain to fly the plane.
“Each move takes at least 10 seconds of hard concentrating, sometimes longer, trying to ignore everything that’s going on around me,” WIRED’s Jack Stewart, who was the first civilian to test drive the plane, wrote.
Stewart, who has neither a pilot’s license nor any experience flying a plane, managed to take off and maneuver the plane after only 15 minutes of training on the ground. (However there was a pilot also operating the plane who could take over if anything went wrong.)
To turn right, the pilot has to concentrate on the right arrow as it flashes on the screen. Every time it flashes, the brain lights up with recognition, which is read by the cap and then transmitted to the airplane’s autopilot system, making the plane turn right.
Although the system is not perfect yet, Stewart said he was able to trigger the correct command about 90 percent of the time.
However, you probably won’t be traveling in an airplane operated solely by a pilot’s brain any time soon. The technology is meant to monitor a pilot’s brain and track performance—perhaps to help pilots read maps or complete checklists with their brain instead of hands—ensuring a safer sky for everyone.