For the past year, we have been working on building a control interface between a human and a swarm of robots by using the brain recordings of the human-commander. After analyzing the brain recordings, we found areas of the brain that can be used to control the formation and other collective behaviors of a swarm of drones. We record the electrical activity of those areas using non-invasive methods, and we decode this activity to control variables for the robotic swarm. The human commander can control the motion and formation of the robotic swarm in real-time by only thinking about their desired motion.
The brain is wired to control artifacts that resemble human limbs. The complexity of a system that requires the brain to activate areas to control robotic artifacts that do not resemble natural limbs — in our cases a swarm of drones — is significant and so far unexplored. Until a few months ago, nobody knew that specific brain areas can be activated when the human observes collective behaviors of swarms. The fact that the brain can adapt to output control actions for a swarm of multiple robots is fascinating and quite useful for human-robots’ interaction.