UH Develops thought controlled Robots for disabled - FOX 26 News | MyFoxHouston

UH Develops thought controlled Robots for disabled

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It was once the stuff of science fiction - a machine actually walking for a person who can't.

Welcome to the frontier of human-robot interface on the campus of the University of Houston where Jose Luis Contreras-Vidal and his team have busted a stubborn technological barrier.

"We are harnessing the neuro activity that is generated inside your brain when you think about walking and use the activity to control the movement of the robot," explained Contreras-Vidal, an electrical and computer engineer.

In this case, those brain signals are harvested by a cap covered with powerful electrodes.

What's captured are the very undelivered messages a paralyzed person would transmit to legs that no longer function.

"We spy on those signals and then use them to re-direct to the robot," said Contreras-Vidal.

The robot is a metal exoskeleton called "Rex".

Contreras says brain waves captured in real time are like a symphony. The UH team employs a complex algorithm to interpret the signals allowing the brain to communicate directly with the exoskeleton.

And it works. Recently at Houston Methodist Hospital a disabled doctor who thought he'd never walk again took mechanical strides directed not by his voice or a joy stick, but by his own brain driven directions.

For the team at UH, it was like hitting the scientific jackpot.

"When you make them walk by using only their thought, you can actually see a smile on their face and that's a great motivation," said Atilla Kilicarslan, a UH engineer who leads the team with Contreras-Vidal.

"We are doing something that's very meaningful that we think can lead to dramatic and affirmative change for people with disabilities," said Conteras Vidal.

The groundbreaking innovation is already deep into clinical trials which means a new era of mind controlled machines has finally arrived.


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