Quadriplegic Woman Flies F-35 Jet Fighter Simulator with Her Mind
Ashley Allen / 9 years ago
A 55-year-old quadriplegic woman has flown a F-35 Joint Strike Fighter simulator using only her mind. Jan Scheuermann, who was paralysed years ago by a rare genetic disease, is a patient of an experimental Pentagon robotics program. As part of the program, she has electrodes implanted in her brain which allowed her to control an artificial arm. The same technology then allowed the Pentagon initiative, run by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), to hook Scheuermann’s brain directly into the F-35 simulator.
The Director of DARPA, Arati Prabhakar, revealed the breakthrough during the Future of War conference last week. “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,” said Prabhakar. “For someone who’s never flown — she’s not a pilot in real life — she’s flying that simulator directly from her neural signalling.”
“In doing this work, we’ve also opened this door,” she continued. “We can now see a future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body and I think we can all imagine amazing good things and amazing potential bad things that are on the other side of that door.”
Scheuermann says she’s proud to be involved in the pioneering study, telling CBS, “I’ve always believed there’s a purpose to my illness. I didn’t think I would ever find out what it was in my lifetime.”
“And here came this study where they needed me. You know, they couldn’t just pick any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street. In a few years, the quadriplegics and the amputees that this is going to help — the Department of Defense is funding some of this for vets — to be of use to them, in service to them, what an honour.”