USF students control drones with their brains using electronic headbands

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USF students are putting their minds to the test at the university's inaugural Brain Drone Race.

Using the power of the mind to take flight, the competitors proved that it is possible to control a drone with a simple thought. 

"It's like when you see a Star Wars movie and see people using the Force -- that's what's about to happen today," said Marvin Andujar, an assistant professor of engineering who helped develop the technology.

"The whole brain drone race thing is crazy," said Carlos Alvarado, one of the race participants. "It's awesome, like flying a drone with your brain, it's ridiculous."

With an electronic headband, people can essentially send electrical signals that translate into commands.

"When you're thinking of that command, that's what's going to make that drone move forward," said Sarah Garcia, a PHD student of engineering who has been working on the state-of-the-art program.

Aside from drones, brain-controlled technology can have real-world functions.

"It has been in the medical field for some time," Andujar said, "so when it comes to controlling prosthesis, wheelchairs, it's used in that case."

There's more work to be done, according to Andujar, but the sky's the limit. At USF, students are already flying pretty high.