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Thought controlled robotics

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Thought controlled robotics Introduction People with paralyzing diseases or injuries are dependent on others and can only imagine what it is like to have freedom of movement. However with recent advancements in thought-controlled robotics, things are looking brighter for them. With this technology they would be able control robotic limbs through mere thought and indeed imagining might be all that they need to move. Overview of the technology (Monkey Brain Operates machine - BBC News) http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/sci/tech/1025471.stm In recent times there has been much research into the area of Neuroengineering. This journal will focus in particular on the area of thought-controlled robotics. A pioneer in this field is Dr Miguel Nicolelis, a neuroscientist at Duke University. Dr Nicolelis was featured in 2000 for his experiment on 2 monkeys, where brain signals were used to drive a robotic arm. As the monkeys reached out to pick up some food off a tray, an artificial neural system linked into its head replicated this action in the robotic arm. This is not the first time that a device has been operated by "brain power" alone. ...read more.


These electrodes would extract raw electrical signals from the brain that can be translated mathematically into signals that computers and robots understand. The following section gives a brief summary of the experiment conducted by Dr Miguel Nicolelis. Description of the experiment (Monkeys Control Robotic Arm With Brain Implants-Washington Post) http://www.nicolelislab.net/NLNet/Load/Media/WashingtonPostpfv.pdf First, patches of skull from the two monkeys were removed to expose the outer surface of their brains, after which microelectrodes were implanted into their brains. The monkeys thus had wires protruding from their heads which connected them to a computer and from there, to a large robotic arm. Next the monkeys were trained to use a joystick to move the robot arm. They were able to make the arm reach and grasp for objects and also vary their own grip on the joystick to adjust the robotic hand's grip strength. As the monkeys trained, the computer tracked the patterns of neural activity in their brains. It soon figured out the patterns linked to specific actions such as "reach" and "grasp". The joystick was then unplugged so that the robotic arm's movements were controlled solely by the monkey's brain activity. ...read more.


With thought-controlled robotics, quadriplegics would be able to operate machines or tools with their own thoughts as naturally as others do with their hands. They would no longer have to depend on others for simple everyday actions such as brushing their teeth or switching on the television. Also this technology might even allow some paralyzed people to move their own arms and or legs again by transmitting the brain signals directly to their muscles instead of to a robotic limb. Other applications of thought-controlled robotics for the paralyzed could include a thought controlled electric wheelchair or computer keyboard. These applications would give them increased freedom of movement and also the ability to communicate. Lastly these brain implants could also allow scientists or soldiers to control hands-free robots that could perform tasks in harsh environments or in war zones. Conclusion It is clear that the potential benefits of thought-controlled robotics are large, not only for the paralyzed but also in the area of science and defence technology among others. Although the current level of technology is limited to monkeys, with the scientists poised to begin human trials, it is likely that thought-controlled robotics for humans will be available within the span of the next few years. ...read more.

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