The objective of any control system is to provide clear and easy to use means to control an equipment with the minimum amount of complexity and with a user friendly interface. Ideally, users should be able to exert control with the least amount of training and maximum efficiency while performing other tasks. The rising number of flights over recent years and the increase in the complexity of aircraft (A/C) systems and technologies has contributed to:
- Increased costs and duration of pilot training
- Limited access of piloting to individuals with particular characteristics;
- Growing complexity of cockpit environments;
- Greater workloads for pilots (which correlate to diminished situational awareness);
Hence, aeronautics research has encouraged the development of innovative means to control A/C and innovative cockpit environments. BRAINFLIGHT proposes to investigate the application of an emerging technology in Neuroscience and Neuroengineering, as a radical new approach to guide and control an A/C. The question behind BRAINFLIGHT is: “Is it possible to control an aircraft using solely the signals emitted from the human brain, without any other intermediary control devices?” The capability to guide and control an aircraft using the brain is a radically new approach that the consortium believes could eventually decrease the complexity of cockpit environments and the resulting downsides mentioned above. It could enable people currently prevented from piloting to do so, and it might free up capacity to do secondary tasks at the same time. This project aims to create a system that allows pilots to learn to control an A/C using brain activity and eventually consolidate it and automate it in such a way that it allows intuitive control and releases the pilot’s higher cognitive functions to other activities.