Is it really possible to control a robot with your mind?
Yes! You will be my friend, Mr Robot! And it's not just government-funded projects that have this technology.
Asked by: Ryan Cooke, St Albans
Yes it is. The USA’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has a brain-controlled prosthetic arm for upper limb amputees. As the user thinks about various movements, the arm picks up the responding brain signals that appear in the remaining nerves at the site of the amputation. With incredible dexterity, the user can remove a letter from an envelope and even move eggs from one box to another.
But away from government-funded research projects, hobbyist and engineer William (Chip) Audette in Vermont controls a small toy robot using his brainwaves. He’s using open hardware called OpenBCI where electrodes on his head pick up brainwaves. The level of control is crude but is proof that advances in EEG technology, machine learning and robotics really are ushering in an age where we can control devices through the power of thought.
- If we’re ever able to make robots as intelligent as us, won’t forcing them to work for us be as bad as slavery?
- Why do we make robots look like humans?
Subscribe to BBC Focus magazine for fascinating new Q&As every month and follow @sciencefocusQA on Twitter for your daily dose of fun science facts.
May Half Price Sale
- Save up to 52% when you subscribe to BBC Science Focus Magazine.
- Risk - free offer! Cancel at any time when you subscribe via Direct Debit.
- FREE UK delivery.
- Stay up to date with the latest developments in the worlds of science and technology.