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Telepresence Robot for the Disabled Takes Directions from Brain Signals

November 30, 2015 | Telepresence Options


Story and images by Signe Brewster / MIT Technology Review

Brain control becomes a more practical way to control robots when the machines can do some things for themselves.

People with severe motor disabilities are testing a new way to interact with the world--using a robot controlled by brain signals.

An experimental telepresence robot created by Italian and Swiss researchers uses its own smarts to make things easier for the person using it, a system dubbed shared control. The user tells the robot where to go via a brainwave-detecting headset, and the robot takes care of details like avoiding obstacles and determining the best route forward.

The robot is essentially a laptop mounted on a rolling base--the user sees the robot's surroundings via the laptop's webcam, and can converse with people over Skype.

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