Can you imagine leaving your human body behind for a new robotic one controlled entirely by your mind? That may not be the future, but a breakthrough from an international team of scientists have at least made it possible. The Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment project has created a robot controlled entirely by human thought alone.
Researchers use functional magnetic resonance imaging to scan the brain of a student as he imagined each individual limb. Scientists mapped out his brain wave patterns, and translated them into commands to make the robot move. The student was then able to control the robot's movement entirely by thinking about moving.
"The ultimate goal is to create a surrogate, like in Avatar," explained researcher Abderrahmane Kheddar to New Scientist. That plan has scientists looking into haptic companion tech or "sensory illusions," so that when the avatar robot touches an item, the human controlling the robot can have a physically relatable sense that an item is being touched.
The new tech has tremendous medical possibilities, especially for those who are paralyzed or without limb function. In the near future, wheelchairs could be replaced by robotic legs that work exactly as flesh-and-bone legs. Or, perhaps even more exciting, those who are locked in — that is, unable to move or speak, but still able to think — could once again interact with the world.
[Image credit: Human and Robot via Shutterstock]
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