Scientists reveal improvements in mind-reading robots

Avatar By Le Williams | 2 years ago

In a recent breakthrough study, scientists have engineered a robot assistant which can be controlled by the power of thought, which offers optimism to the disabled community.

Baxter, the machine developed by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, displays the capability of reading human brainwaves which translates human emotions. The machine’s owner can then direct the machine into performing different tasks using subtle hand gestures.

Project supervisor Daniella Russa said the aim was to “move away from a world where people have to adapt to the constraints of machines to develop robotic systems that are a more natural and intuitive extension of us”.

The team makes use of a branch of science known as electroencephalography (EEG) for brain activity and electromyography (EMG) for muscle activity. Users have a series of electrodes placed on their scalp and forearm to detect impulses.

Ph.D. candidate Joseph DelPreto, who was the lead author on the paper, explained, “By looking at both muscle and brain signals, we can start to pick up on a person’s natural gestures along with their snap decisions about whether something is going wrong.”

DelPreto added, “This helps make communicating with a robot more like communicating with another person.”

CSAIL Director Daniela Rus, who supervised the work, said: “This work combining EEG and EMG feedback enables natural human-robot interactions for a broader set of applications that we’ve been able to do before using only EEG feedback.

“By including muscle feedback, we can use gestures to command the robot spatially, with much more nuance and specificity.”

The team’s research will be presented at the Robotics: Science and Systems (RSS) conference in Pittsburgh next week.