ASU team to explain swarming drones controlled via brainwaves

By Luke Geiver | October 24, 2017

Researchers at Arizona State University’s Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab have thought long and hard about drones. Their efforts—which will be explained in detail at the Arizona UAS Summit in early November—have unveiled a method that allows a swarm of drones to be controlled with brainwaves.

After researching how brain mechanisms perceived multi-agent systems information and then modeling how that information is displayed in the brain, the ASU team was able to identify specific brain areas and patterns of activation related to collective behaviors of swarms of robots.

To date, the researchers have created algorithms that can process brain sensory data and turn it into actionable information capable of allowing a human outfitted with a sensor-wired head apparatus and accompanying joystick to control the flight of several multi-rotors at once.

“There has not been a lot of research on how one single human can control multiple robots,” said Panogiotis Artemiadis, associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at the Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab at ASU. “We started with the idea of human swarm interaction we record from the brain. We actually saw that the brain really cares about collective behaviors of swarms.”

After taking signals from the brain, sending it to a computer that processes the signals into an algorithm, researchers then link a signal from the algorithm to a drone via Bluetooth.

The team is currently working on how to control the inner-distances and flight patterns of the drones in the swarm and to get them to collaborate on a bigger goal, according to Artemiadis. In addition to the aerial vehicle, the team is also working to control ground-based unmanned vehicles.

During the Arizona UAS Summit, Artemiadis will provide an update on the research taking place at the HORC Lab.