Mind Control Robot: A robot that can be controlled by your thoughts


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Controlling a Robot by Your Arms sounds like a Spielberg movie. But now, it has become a reality. Scientists from the University of Minnesota, US, have shown that it is actually possible. They have developed a robotic hand: a mind-control robot that you can control with your mind only.

Through this new technology, some seemingly impossible feats should no longer be restricted to the realms of fantasy. For example, grasping a mug of coffee sitting on a chair with a robotic hand brings it to you. According to scientists, this mind-control robot will help people with paralysis, some disabilities, or neurodegenerative diseases.

Lead researcher Professor Bin He said, “This is the first time in the world that people can operate a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in a complex 3D environment using only their thoughts without a brain implant. Just by imagining moving their arms, they were able to move the robotic arm.

Scientists involved eight healthy participants in the research and asked them to complete the task experimental sessions of the study wearing the EEG cap. The EEG is a non-invasive technique, called electroencephalography (EEG) based brain-computer interface. The cap records the weak electrical activity of the participant’s brain. The cap consists of 64 electrodes that convert the thoughts into action by advanced signal processing and machine learning.

Participants gradually learned to move their arms without actually moving them to control a robotic arm in 3D space. They primarily learned to control a virtual cursor on the computer screen. They then learned to control a robotic arm to reach and grasp objects in fixed locations on a table. Finally, they could move the robotic arm by thinking about the movements.

When participants think about the new movement, it activates a new assortment of neurons.

Bin said, “Sorting out these assortments using advanced signal processing laid the groundwork for the brain-computer interface used by the researchers.

The researchers said, “The brain-computer interface technology works due to the geography of the motor cortex – the area of the cerebrum that governs movement. When humans move or think about a movement, neurons in the motor cortex produce tiny electric currents.

Journal Reference

  1. Meng, J., Zhang, S., Bekyo, A., Olsoe, J., Baxter, B., & He, B. (2016). Noninvasive Electroencephalogram Based Control of a Robotic Arm for Reach and Grasp Tasks. Scientific Reports, 6(1), 1-15. DOI: 10.1038/srep38565


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