Mind-controlled robot arms show promise

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Mind-controlled robot arms show promise

Postby goon2019 » Sat Jul 20, 2019 5:14 am

Mind-controlled robot arms show promise


Two people who are unable to move their limbs have been able to guide a robot arm to reach and grasp objects using only their brain activity, a paper in Nature reports today1.

The study participants — known as Cathy and Bob — had had strokes that damaged their brain stems and left them with tetraplegia and unable to speak. Neurosurgeons implanted tiny recording devices containing almost 100 hair-thin electrodes in the motor cortex of their brains, to record the neuronal signals associated with intention to move.

In a trial filmed in April last year and presented with the paper, Cathy, who had her stroke 15 years ago and received the implants in 2005, used her thoughts to steer a robot arm to grasp a bottle of coffee and lift it to her lips. She drank and smiled (see video).We’ll never forget that smile,” says Leigh Hochberg, a neuroengineer at Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island, and a co-author of the paper.

The work is part of the BrainGate2 clinical trial, led by John Donoghue, director of the Brown Institute for Brain Science in Providence. His team has previously reported a trial in which two participants were able to move a cursor on a computer screen with their thoughts2.crp robot

“To move from this type of two-dimensional movement to movements involving reaching out for an object, grasping it and then guiding it in three-dimensional space is a huge step for us,” says Donoghue. “It seems like more than one additional dimension in complexity.”The challenge lies in decoding the neural signals picked up by the participant’s neural interface implant — and then converting those signals to digital commands that the robotic device can follow to execute the exact intended movement. The more complex the movement, the more difficult the decoding task.

The neuroscientists are working closely with computer scientists and robotics experts. The BrainGate2 trial uses two types of robotic arm: the DEKA Arm System, which is being developed for prosthetic limbs in collaboration with US military, and a heavier robot arm being developed by the German Aerospace Centre (DLR) as an external assistive device.
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