Students race each other with brain directed drones

Last Thursday a ‘Dronelympics’ contest took place at Science Park 904, the campus of UvA’s Faculty of Science. Students in the course ‘Brain Powered’ demonstrated the method they developed for directing drones with brain waves.

The Dronelympics was the final presentation for students taking the course. The course is open to students in the Bachelor’s programmes Psychobiology, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science. As part of the course they have to develop a brain-directed driver programme for a robot or vehicle.



One of the challenges in the course is to convert EEG signals into driver parameters. A previous cohort of students in the course already succeeded in making brain directed drones fly. This year, the drones had to navigate a slalom course. This meant the students had to develop a method that would allow the drones not only to go up and forward, but also left and right. ‘Pilots’ could do so by thinking about their left hand or right foot.

Dronelympics parcours

Solving real-world problems

The course Brain Powered gives students from the Bachelor’s programmes Psychobiology, Artificial Intelligence and Computer Science the opportunity to gain experience with solving real-world problems in a multi-disciplinary team. For example, directing vehicles or robots with brain waves has applications in creating solutions for people with paralysis.

The University of Amsterdam (UvA) has a rich history dating back to 1632, when its forerunner, the Golden Age school Athenaeum Illustre, was established. Today, with some 30,000 students, 5,000 staff, more than 100 nationalities and a budget of more than 600 million euros, it is one of the largest comprehensive universities in Europe.