Researchers control robot with monkey's brain signals

Scientists in Japan have suceeded in controlling a humanoid robot with signals picked up in the U.S. from a monkey's brain and transmitted across the Internet.

Scientists in Japan have succeeded in controlling a humanoid robot with signals picked up in the US from a monkey's brain and transmitted across the Internet, they said Tuesday.

The research, which represents a world's first according to the Japan Science and Technology Agency (JST), could be a first step toward giving doctors the ability to restore motor functions in severely paralyzed patients. It can also contribute to the development of robots that move more like humans, JST said in a statement Tuesday.

In the tests, scientists led by Miguel Nicolelis at Duke University in North Carolina trained two monkeys to walk on their legs on a treadmill. The activity of neurons in the leg area of the monkey's brain was recorded while the monkey walked and decoded into predictions of the position of their leg joints.

These predictions were then sent across the Internet to Kyoto where they were used to control a robot. A live video signal of the robot was relayed back to the monkey to provide feedback.

The robot, called CBi for Computational Brain interface, is about the same size as a human at 155 centimeters tall and weighs 85 kilograms. It has 51 degrees of freedom of motion and was developed by JST and Christopher Atkeson of Carnegie Mellon University's Robotics Institute to enable such neuroscience research. The hardware side of the robot was developed by Sarcos, a Salt Lake City robotics company.

The results of the work are groundbreaking, according to JST, although much remains to be done before it can be worked into something useful. As part of the ongoing research, the teams are looking at sending back more complex feedback to the brains of the monkeys.

In recent years, robotics researchers have been increasingly studying how to make the movements of robots more lifelike. Robots like Asimo, developed by car-maker Honda, are being positioned as future companion robots that could either work alongside humans or carry out tasks for them. One of the many issues that needs to be tackled before such a dream can be realized is increasing the mechanical complexity of the robot while simultaneously developing more advanced control systems.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Martyn Williams

IDG News Service

Comments

Comments are now closed.

Most Popular Reviews

Follow Us

Best Deals on GoodGearGuide

Shopping.com

Latest News Articles

Resources

GGG Evaluation Team

Kathy Cassidy

STYLISTIC Q702

First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.

Anthony Grifoni

STYLISTIC Q572

For work use, Microsoft Word and Excel programs pre-installed on the device are adequate for preparing short documents.

Steph Mundell

LIFEBOOK UH574

The Fujitsu LifeBook UH574 allowed for great mobility without being obnoxiously heavy or clunky. Its twelve hours of battery life did not disappoint.

Andrew Mitsi

STYLISTIC Q702

The screen was particularly good. It is bright and visible from most angles, however heat is an issue, particularly around the Windows button on the front, and on the back where the battery housing is located.

Simon Harriott

STYLISTIC Q702

My first impression after unboxing the Q702 is that it is a nice looking unit. Styling is somewhat minimalist but very effective. The tablet part, once detached, has a nice weight, and no buttons or switches are located in awkward or intrusive positions.

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?