While the Air Force’s official strategy for ruling the sky over the next 15 years doesn’t include plans for futuristic fighter jets, it may include plans for futuristic fighter pilots.
Researchers at the University of Melbourne have been working for the past your years on a paper-clip-sized bio implant called a stentrode that's designed to allow pilots to fly F-35s using only their thoughts.
The stentrode is guided through the blood by an advanced imaging system before attaching to the walls of a precise location in the brain. Once in place, the implant can read the activity of nearby neurons that signal information about movement. When tested in sheep, stentrodes recorded readings that were on par with previous implants installed during open-brain surgery.
While the look-Ma-no-hands project sounds like something your Star Wars-obsessed kid dreamt up, it’s already shown enough promise to get DARPA to foot the bill. “The military appears interested in the potential for jet fighters to control their planes with direct thought control, rather than using their arms,” says University of Melbourne neurologist Tom Oxley. “The reaction time you'd shave off would be milliseconds.”
The team’s first in-human trial of the stentrode is slated for 2017.
May The Force be with them.Main image courtesy of StarWars.com