US team introduces first, implant-less robot arm technology

July 5, 2019

Prosthetics technology has come a long way from brain implants or external sensing systems that are needed to control the robotic appendage – motions can be smooth or jerky depending on the type of control system used.

However, the first noninvasive, mind-controlled robotic arm that exhibits smooth, continuous motion previously reserved only for systems involving brain implants has been developed by a team from Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) in Pennsylvania, US, who used sensing and machine learning techniques to create an brain-computer interface (BCI) to reach signals deep within the brains of participants wearing EEG headcaps, to direct motion.

When the participants were asked to move their robotic arm alongside a cursor as it moved around a computer screen, the robotic arm was able to continuously track the cursor in real-time – with no jerky movements – an exciting first for a noninvasive BCI system.

Currently, mind-controlled robots and assistive technology is focused on the paralysed/disabled, but CMU researcher, Bin He, thinks the new, safe technology may someday become a pervasive assistive tool for the population as a whole, much like the smartphone.

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Category: Features, Technology & Devices

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