Brain Control to Major Feat: Mind-Powered Plane Flying Passes Sim Test

A. Heddergott/TU M?nchen

Strap on what looks like a white swimming cap covered in electrodes, and fly a plane hands-free. Impossible? A feat worthy of Professor X? Nope. Seven regular people at the Technical University of Munich, Germany, have already managed it in a simulator.

They had varying levels of flight experience, including one person without any practical cockpit experience whatsoever. The accuracy with which the test subjects stayed on course by merely thinking commands would have sufficed, in part, to fulfill the requirements of a flying license test. “One of the subjects was able to follow eight out of ten target headings with a deviation of only 10 degrees,” reports Fricke. Several of the subjects also managed the landing approach under poor visibility. One test pilot even landed within only few meters of the centerline.

The university’s press release does note that only “the very clearly defined electrical brain impulses required for control are recognized by the brain-computer interface.” It does not say whether, akin to Clint Eastwood in Firefox, you must think in German.

Probably best not to copy that movie too much, since nowadays we associate the name Firefox with something that always crashes.