Brain-controlled wheelchair that’ll be ultra-safe and reliable too
A research headed by José del R. Millán from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland is aiming to develop brain-controlled wheelchair that can be operated with maximum safety and reliability over a long period of time. José’s work was presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society (CNS) conference in San Francisco and it also underlines the importance of developing prosthetics that can be controlled using neuroprosthetic devices that enable the user to perform complex tasks.
The ultimate aim of his research is to design prosthetics and autonomous robots that keep evolving in the learning curve, literally assisting disabled people in a very intuitive way. To do this the right approach is to decode the user’s intention represented by the brain signals. For this he is using BCI (Brain-computer interface) that replicates brain’s deepest areas, spinal cord functions and musculoskeletal system to permit complex tasks.
The brain-controlled prototype devices were tested on people with varying motor disabilities and they all managed to complete their tasks. These devices are equipped with EEGs that record brain activity without any non-invasive means, making it easier for conducting such tests. Researchers developed these prototype devices which can not only track higher-level brain activity but also register lower-level movements which helps in designing BCI devices that are able to understand the user’s intention more clearly.
Millán concluded that robots and exoskeletons developed in conjunction with these neuroprostheses will be able to replicate and restore limb function just like any original body part.