Mind-controlled robot unveiled
25 April 2012, 17:04
Geneva - A professor at a Swiss university on Tuesday unveiled a robot
that can be controlled by the brainwaves of a paraplegic person wearing
an electrode-fitted cap, news agency ATS reported.
man at a hospital in the town of Sion demonstrated the device, sending a
mental command to a computer in his room, which transmitted it to
another computer that moved a small robot 60km away in Lausanne.
system was developed by Jose Millan, a professor at the Federal
Polytechnic School of Lausanne who specialises in non-invasive
interfaces between machines and the brain.
The same technology can be used to drive a wheelchair, Millan said.
"Once the movement has begun, the brain can relax, otherwise the person would soon be exhausted," he said.
the technology has its limits, he added. The brain signals can be
scrambled if too many people are gathered around a wheelchair, for
Besides making paraplegics mobile, neuroprosthetics could be used to help patients recover lost senses, researchers said.
Stephanie Lacour and her team are working on an "electric skin" for
amputees, a glove fitted with tiny sensors that would send information
directly to the user's nervous system.
say they hope to create mechanised prosthetics that are as mobile and
sensitive as a natural hand, Lacour said.
Other researchers at Lausanne are working on enabling paraplegics to walk again with electrodes implanted in their spinal cords.
goal is that after a year of training with a robotic aide, the patient
will be able to walk without a robot. The electrodes would stay
implanted for life," said Professor Gregoire Courtine.
He said he is currently setting up clinical trials and hopes to run tests at Zurich's university hospital within a year.