The US military’s Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is launching a new generation of warplanes which are flown by a pilot sitting hundreds of miles away with an implant in their brain.
Using sophisticated brain-computer interfaces (BCI), soldiers will be able to pilot up to three jets at once with just their thoughts.
Top US scientists have been working on the scheme since 2015.
Back in 2016, a pilot hooked up to a neural implant was able to pilot an aircraft in a flight simulator while keeping two other planes in formation.
“Signals from the brain can be used to command and control not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft”
Justin Sanchez, director, DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office
In 2017, a pilot steered a plane through another simulation, this time by receiving haptic feedback — meaning the implant created a tingling sensation in their hands.
A spokesman for DARPA explained to US media how the technology works.
The BCI uses electrodes which have been implanted in and on the brain’s sensory and motor cortices.
Because of this, so far the experiments have been restricted to pilots with at least some degree of paralysis.
Justin Sanchez, director of DARPA’s Biological Technologies Office, unveiled the project at DARPA’s 60th-anniversary event this month.
“As of today, signals from the brain can be used to command and control not just one aircraft but three simultaneous types of aircraft,” he said.
DARPA has recently launched a new Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program to make a cap which will sit on top of the pilot’s head and won’t involve brain implants.
“I don’t like comparisons to a joystick or keyboard because they don’t reflect the full potential of N3 technology, but they’re useful for conveying the basic notion of an interface with computers.”
It comes after documents were leaked showing the US government has looked into remotely controlling people’s minds and manipulating their dreams.
While prosthetic limbs controlled by the patient’s mind have been developed by top doctors.