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Robotics Technology

Monkey's Thoughts Make Robot Walk 146

geekbits writes "For all those who have at one time or another been too lazy to get up off the couch and go to the fridge and get a beer, heat up some pizza, or change the channel when the remote is missing, we may be one step closer to being able to keep our tushes parked just a little while longer. There may also be some slightly more noble implications here. According to an article in The New York Times, in an experiment at Duke University, a 12-pound, 32-inch monkey made a 200-pound, 5-foot humanoid robot walk on a treadmill using only her brain activity. She was in North Carolina, and the robot was in Japan."
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Monkey's Thoughts Make Robot Walk

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  • Re:monkey business (Score:4, Informative)

    by FailedTheTuringTest ( 937776 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:18PM (#22075540)

    TFA is not very clear about the most important part of this, but other [] reports [] spell it out more clearly: "The most stunning finding is that when we stopped the treadmill and the monkey ceased to move its legs, it was able to sustain the locomotion of the robot for a few minutes -- just by thinking -- using only the visual feedback of the robot in Japan."

    The reason for using a robot rather than an animation is that they wanted to prove that neural signals could actually be used to drive real motors. I also think it's interesting that they worked out how to interpret neural signals in the brain by correlating neural impulses with the monkey's own leg motions, this was not a case of intercepting signals traveling along muscle-control nerves. I agree there seems to be no particular reason other than showmanship to do this intercontinentally, though! And in fact the monkey was able to keep the system working through a 250 ms delay, which is an interesting finding because it means that such systems don't need to respond to controls instantly but can tolerate some delay. However, they didn't really need to be on different continents to test that.

  • monkey thoughts (Score:4, Informative)

    by dominious ( 1077089 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:33PM (#22075696)
    i was looking at this today: []
    watch after 0:44, the monkey learnt how to control the robotic arm with its thoughts in order to feed itself:)
  • Re:Pretty Pictures (Score:3, Informative)

    by riseoftheindividual ( 1214958 ) on Wednesday January 16, 2008 @10:33PM (#22075698) Homepage
    This is a different monkey, but same concept... he doesn't look particularly drugged nor do I see any exposed brain. []

    The point? Proof of concept for investors I would suspect. Tele presence is now much more closer to reality. There will be big money in this stuff down the line. I remember reading a forward looking military report that planned on mind controlled planes in 2020 or something like that, and that's just one application.

"Wish not to seem, but to be, the best." -- Aeschylus