In this April 16, 2016 photo. a University of Florida student uses a brain-controlled interface headset to fly a drone during a mind-controlled drone race in Gainesville, Fla. For more than a century science has been able to detect brainwaves, but recent advances in cheaper equipment like the electroencephalogram, or EEG, headsets worn by the drone racers is moving the technology out of the lab. (AP Photo/ Jason Dearen)
Wearing black headsets with tentacle-like sensors stretched over their foreheads, the competitors stare at cubes floating on computer screens as their small white drones prepare for takeoff.
“Three, two, one … GO!” the announcer hollers, and as the racers fix their thoughts on pushing the cubes, the drones suddenly whir, rise and buzz through the air. Some struggle to move even a few feet, while others zip confidently across the finish line.
The competition—billed as the world’s first drone race involving a brain-controlled interface—involved 16 pilots who used their willpower to drive drones through a 10-yard dash over an indoor basketball court at the University of Florida this past weekend. The Associated Press was there to record the event, which was sponsored with research funding from Intel Corp. Organizers want to make it an annual inter-collegiate spectacle, involving ever-more dynamic moves and challenges, and a trophy that puts the brain on a pedestal.