Straight out of dystopian sci-fi show Black Mirror, Australian soldiers trialled new technology allowing them to control robot dogs with their mind. Powered through a bulky headset, the soldiers are able to command the machines with nothing more than their thoughts.
Shared in a video on YouTube, the mind control device claims to be able to translate soldiers’ thoughts into commands. Dubbed the Brain Robotics Interface, the video shows the technology in action in rural areas of Australia.
Developed in partnership with RICO (Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office), the project is part of the Aussie army’s ongoing research into the use of brain signals in warfare robotics.
The three-minute video shows soldiers donning a Microsoft HoloLens 2 AR headset with a graphene sensor and a Raspberry Pi attached. This sensor is capable of capturing brainwaves from the wearer and sending it to a translation program using AI.
One demonstration shows the user looking through the augmented reality visor and thinking where to send the robot. This appears to be done through a mix of thought control as well as eye tracing within the headset itself.
“The potential of the project is actually very broad,” said Sergeant Damien Robinson. “At its core, it’s translating brainwaves into zeroes and ones, and that can be implemented into a number of different systems. In this particular system, we’re translating it into control for a robot.”
Another scenario that was tested was combining commanding the robot dogs alongside human members of the same fireteam. In a simulated patrol clearance, the team leader was able to command the robot, direct his troops and still see around him instead of looking at a command centre.
Robots in the military have become more commonplace over the past decade. In fact, the American military has already undergone common sense training for a number of its robotic helpers. However, the technology is still a controversial topic, especially when weapons are attached to robotic systems.