Arthur J. Villasanta – Fourth Estate Contributor
Arlington, VA, United States (4E) – The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has reached a historic milestone by successfully having a single pilot control multiple aircraft with his mind.
This spectacular success opens the door towards multiple and massive aircraft swarms attacking enemy targets in the future. These future swarms won’t only be small, multi-rotor aerial drones but larger combat aircraft such as stealth fighters or air superiority fighters.
New DARPA research on advanced Brain-Computer Interfaces (BCIs) now allows a single pilot to control multiple simulated aircraft at once.
“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control … not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” said Dr. Justin Sanchez, Director of DARPA’s Biological Technology Office.
DARPA used a small BCI microchip surgically-implanted in the brain of the pilot to improve the interaction with three virtual F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. It said the pilot was a paralyzed man named Nathan who not only sent signals controlling the three virtual F-35s but received data from these jets, as well.
“The signals from those aircraft can be delivered directly back to the brain so that the brain of that user (or pilot) can also perceive the environment,” said Dr. Sanchez. “It’s taken a number of years to try and figure this out.”
What DARPA has developed is a real telepathic conversation with multiple jets about what’s going on; what threats might be flying over the horizon, and what to do about them.
Dr. Sanchez said they’ve scaled it to three aircraft, and have full sensory signals coming back. So it’s now possible to have planes detect something and send that signal back into the brain, which is an astounding breakthrough.
It’s another breakthrough in the rapidly advancing field of BCIs, which DARPA is devoting immense resources to explore. DARPA and the U.S. military have been leading research into BCI since 2007. In 2012, DARPA issued a $4 million grant to build a non-invasive “synthetic telepathy” interface by placing sensors close to the brain’s motor centers to detect electrical signals, non-invasively, over the skin.
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