Robot Controlled By Man’s Brain
Robotic Scientists Working On Real-Life ‘Avatar’
Lee Rannals for redOrbit.com – Your Universe Online
If someone were to ask you what superpower you would want, chances are being able to move things with your mind would be in the top five. Now, new advances in robotics gives man that capability.
Researchers are working on ways to make the man-machine link more sensitive, allowing people to speak to the robot through brain waves, according to a report by New Scientist.
The magazine said that a team of scientists connected a robot to a man having his brain scanned using Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI).
FMRI machines monitor blood flowing through the brain, and can help spot when areas associated with certain actions are in use.
Tirosh Shapira, who was in a lab at Bar-Ilan University, Israel, was linked up with a two-legged robot thousands of miles away at Beziers Technology Institute in France.
Shapira was told to think about different sorts of movements, while the researchers developed software that could quickly spot his intention. Through this technique, he was able to control the robot in almost real time. Shapira was set up with a mirror so he could see his robot avatar.
“I really felt like I was there,” Shapira, told New Scientist. “At one point the connection failed. One of the researchers picked the robot up to see what the problem was and I was like, ‘Oi, put me down!’”
The researchers next step is to stretch beyond an fMRI machine by using a different type of scanning that could work by using a skull cap. They also want to upgrade the robot to a version that has similar stature and gait to a real person.
“The ultimate goal is to create a surrogate, like in Avatar, although that’s a long way off yet,” Abderrahmane Kheddar, director of the CNRS-AIST joint robotics laboratory at the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology in Tsukuba, Japan told New Scientist.
The scientists have plans to test out their project with paralyzed subjects, giving them the opportunity to control the robot with their mind.