EEG control of a virtual helicopter in 3-dimensional space using intelligent control strategies

Audrey S. Royer, Alexander J. Doud, Minn L. Rose, Bin He

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

137 Scopus citations


Films like Firefox, Surrogates, and Avatar have explored the possibilities of using braincomputer interfaces (BCIs) to control machines and replacement bodies with only thought. Real world BCIs have made great progress toward that end. Invasive BCIs have enabled monkeys to fully explore 3-D space using neuroprosthetics. However, noninvasive BCIs have not been able to demonstrate such mastery of 3-D space. Here, we report our work, which demonstrates that human subjects can use a noninvasive BCI to fly a virtual helicopter to any point in a 3-D world. Through use of intelligent control strategies, we have facilitated the realization of controlled flight in 3-D space. We accomplished this through a reductionist approach that assigns subject-specific control signals to the crucial components of 3-D flight. Subject control of the helicopter was comparable when using either the BCI or a keyboard. By using intelligent control strategies, the strengths of both the user and the BCI system were leveraged and accentuated. Intelligent control strategies in BCI systems such as those presented here may prove to be the foundation for complex BCIs capable of doing more than we ever imagined.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5585778
Pages (from-to)581-589
Number of pages9
JournalIEEE Transactions on Neural Systems and Rehabilitation Engineering
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 1 2010


  • Braincomputer interface (BCI)
  • electroencephalography (EEG)
  • three-dimensional (3-D)

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