German researchers want to begin controlling airplanes with brain waves

A mind-controlled iPhone? Sure, we’ll take it. A mind-controlled Samsung Galaxy Note 10.1? Why not? A mind-controlled airplane powered by the pilot’s brainwaves? Hold on for a moment while we look for the nearest emergency exit. Using your mind to control an airplane sounds bonkers, but according to this CNET report, researchers are working on just that. A team from the Technische Universität München in Germany strapped electroencephalography electrodes to the heads of participants, put them in a flight simulator – not a real aircraft, thank heavens – and instructed them to control the plane using only their minds.

Thanks to her kick-butt skill of telekinesis (my secret superhero power wish), longtime X-Men alum Jean Grey can move things with her mind. And she’s not the only one. New research out of the Technische Universität München (TUM) in Germany is hinting that mind control might soon reach entirely new heights — even by us non-mutants. They’ve demonstrated that pilots might be able to fly planes through the sky using their thoughts alone. The researchers hooked study participants to a cap containing dozens of electroencephalography (EEG) electrodes, sat them down in a flight simulator, and told them to steer the plane through the sim using their thoughts alone. The cap read the electrical signals from their brains and an algorithm then translated those signals into computer commands. Seven people underwent the experiment and, according to the researchers, all were able to pilot the plane using their thoughts to such a degree that their performance could have satisfied some of the criteria for getting a pilot’s license. What’s more, the study participants weren’t all pilots and had varying levels of flight experience. One had no cockpit experience at all.

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