DARPA program allows quadriplegic woman to control F-35 simulator
Jan Scheuermann, shown above, who was rendered quadriplegic by a hereditary genetic disease, had electrodes implanted in her brain's left motor cortex back in 2012. While she started out simply controlling a robotic arm as part of a University of Pittsburgh Medical Center program, she's since moved onto the simulator, despite having received no flight training.
"Instead of thinking about controlling a joystick, which is what our ace pilots do when they're driving this thing, Jan's thinking about controlling the airplane directly," Arati Prabhakar, the director of DARPA, told Defense Tech. "For someone who's never flown – she's not a pilot in real life – she's flying that simulator directly from her neural signaling."
That's the real, remarkable thing here – Scheuermann's ability to control such a wildly complex machine with nothing but her thoughts, while promising for future military tech, is an even bigger deal for the disabled. People with prosthetics, or like Scheuermann are complete quadriplegics, could one day live more normal lives with this kind of technology.
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