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Robotics Biotech Science

Honda Develops Brain Interface For Robot Control 88

narramissic writes "Honda has released a video of experiments showing a person wearing a large hemispheric scanner on his head and controlling Honda's Asimo robot by visualizing movement. Back in 2006, Honda and ATR researchers managed to get a robotic hand to move by analyzing brain activity using a large MRI scanner. This latest work uses EEG to measure the electrical activity in a person's brain and blood flow within the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to produce data that is then interpreted into control information. While both the EEG and NIRS techniques are established, the analyzing process for the data is new. Honda said the system uses statistical processing of the complex information to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion."
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Honda Develops Brain Interface For Robot Control

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  • Next Leap (Score:3, Insightful)

    by I3ooI3oo ( 1215428 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:46AM (#27402973)
    While controlling something (robot/UAV) will get easier and easier. The problem I see is getting the Input side working for total control. Combining the technology that is being developed to help the blind and deaf for something like this would be the next great leap.
    • House M.D. did this in the latest episode (yesterday's) to some extent.

      The patient was paralyzed ("locked in syndrome") and could only communicate by blinking, then lost that ability, so they used an EEG and trained ("think 'up'") the patient to move the cursor on the screen.

      Either way, I'm not really impressed as I'm sure this has been going on for about as long as the EEG has been around, which has been for over 100 years now, and NIRS for about 70.

    • The guys working with the person wearing the input device, texted a hot babe to come by and just see if the robot spazzes out.

    • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

      Or maybe it will be video games...

      Anyone who has seen Angelic Layer will know what I am talking about. Guy invents direct thought control system for medical applications, but in order to get it funded develops it into a game. Makes sense, go for a very large market to help reduce the cost of the technology and rapidly improve it and use that to push the more limited medical applications.

  • what happens when the guy thinks of women on the beach?
  • by furby076 ( 1461805 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:46AM (#27402983) Homepage
    welcome our new bucket wearing overlords! All hail Lord Bucket!
  • Army of the Future (Score:3, Interesting)

    by lymond01 ( 314120 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:50AM (#27403035)

    The book Starship Troopers by Henlein had people wearing huge armored suits equipped with nukes, lasers, etc. Perhaps we can just have robot armies controlled by humans mentally.

    Or maybe robot miners. And robot deep sea divers. And robot firemen. It doesn't all have to be destruction and chaos to be cool. :-)

    • Heinlein's character Sergeant Zim (I think?) made the argument that men in the field were still the most superior weapon, and the only ones capable of stealing small objects out from under the enemy's noses, taking captives, and adapting to complex objectives.

      No robots for you.

      • No no. You still have men-sized (roughly) robots who are controlled mentally by men in La-Z-Boy armchairs. You don't need to put the person in the middle of the field, just the robot, since all its motions mimic the person's will.

        • Read "Waldo & Magic Incorporated", also by Heinlein. Teleoperation, robot mimics at a distance. Again, science follows science fiction, if at a safe and respectful distance.
          • by HiThere ( 15173 )

            Waldos were first used to handle hot things inside nuclear power plants. Since then they've expanded their capabilities and uses. But until now they haven't been mentally controlled. (And I'm not certain that this counts...but it's sure getting a lot closer.)

            The generic term is telefactor. Waldo is the name given to tele-operated hands. (And as I recall that's how "Waldo" in the story "Waldo" used the items.)

    • by MikeRT ( 947531 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:14PM (#27403367)

      It doesn't all have to be destruction and chaos to be cool. :-)

      Yes, it does.

    • scientist: "here we have the latest in robotic advances, we have..."
      audience member: (interrupting) "Can you *beep* it?"
      scientist: "Huh?"
      audience member: "Can you *beep* it?"
      scientist: "Uhh, no."
      whole audience: (all getting up and leaving) "grumbling"

  • "Honda has released a video of experiments."

    On a completely unrelated note, I've developed a series of exercises to read slashdot and reply, by pure will. I don't even require a computer.

    I present this text as sample of the experiment's result.

  • I wonder what would happen if the subject felt the urge of punching someone, among other things.

    This could lead to very strange situations.

  • Sounds like a spoiler for Sleep Dealer [].
  • by Chris Burke ( 6130 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @11:59AM (#27403157) Homepage

    Why on earth would these gal-danged scientists create a brain interface for robot control?! The fools have already ensured that the robots will take over our society and force us into slavery. Do they have to make it so easy for them that the robots can just control us directly via our brains?! Are they trying to destroy mankind? These scientists have gone mad!

    What's that? Oh... never mind.

    • by gambit3 ( 463693 )

      Don't worry. We'll all have this inhibitor chip put at the top of our spine that will keep the super-smart robots from controlling our brain.

    • I shall rule Earth using robots and the flu! (Donning helmet) "Now, my mighty robots, kill Thor, while he's distracted by his explosive diarrhea!"
  • ...this to lead to humans battling it out in tournaments controlling huge, hundred ton robots.

    I better be able to play as a Nova. []

  • Maybe I watch way too much of Futurama/Simpsons/Family Guy/Sci-Fi channel...

  • by GMonkeyLouie ( 1372035 ) <gmonkeylouie AT gmail DOT com> on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:05PM (#27403245)

    Clearly, this is why the zombies want our brains. They must have already built the robots.

  • Great!! (Score:4, Funny)

    by gijoel ( 628142 ) on Tuesday March 31, 2009 @12:11PM (#27403317)
    Now I have to learn to think in Japanese as well as Russian.
    • by julesh ( 229690 )

      Now I have to learn to think in Japanese as well as Russian.

      Only +1 for that? Mods these days have no [] culture [].

  • DRM in your brain. If you get a song stuck in your head you didn't pay royalties for... Not to mention the political implications of this, no more need for torture when you have a Romulan brain probe that can download the information you want out of the person's brain. Or how such technology could be used by a dictator to control the population by punishing unloyal thoughts.

    • There is never a 'need' for torture. It is /impossible/ for torture to provide accurate information about anything. Torture never produces reliable information.

      The purpose of torture is to cause pain, not to extract information. Reality isn't a TV show.

      • True, I should have written "excuse for torture".

        But would a brain probe be a form of torture? Should it be banned by the Geneva conventions?

  • I'd want a mind control link for driving one of their cars! That way, we could keep our hands free for doing other tasks while driving, like talking on the cell phone, eating, or shaving!
    • Except that you won't have your brain free for doing other tasks while driving. That's why hand-free devices don't actually make driving while cell-phoning significantly safer.

      Of course, maybe you drive in Boston or Chicago, where clearly brain-free driving isn't a problem.

      • Or better yet, a thought control cell phone! So instead of texting your friends while driving, you could just connect directly to their thoughts! Although that could get a little scary!
  • I for one look forward to my new Honda built robotic overlord...

    I wonder if it's kick start...


  • We will be able to have real Battlemech combats at Solaris IV!

    Japanese mechas, pffffft, goddamn candyasses.

  • Isn't this a slightly fancier, much more well-funded version of what the "Prototype This" hackers did in a few days: []
    (around minute 1) and []


    • Everything in Asimo is a slightly fancier and much more well-funded and publicized version of everything that's already been done before. But most people see Asimo and they're amazed and they become instant fanboi's of it because this is the first time they see such-n-such technology.
      • that this is Honda, a name brand major manufacturer who are in a position to mass produce things that actually work and are affordable. Sure, random joe nerd youtoober or pick a university project of choice might come up with something spiffy, but when Honda does it, there's at least some hope you might get one, one day.

  • Sweet! Ars was just covering a story about using carbon nanotubes for artificial muscles, and now we have the neural interface controls we need too. If only ITER would hurry up and get us to the point of developing compact fusion reactors, we'd be all set to go.
  • The hitch is that most people still need a brain interface to a better brain.

  • Last night's episode of "House" (FOX TV) had a gadget that used EEG to move a cursor so a paralyzed patient could answer yes/no questions. Talk about synchronicity!
  • An immediate application, of course, is prosthetics for lost or damaged limbs.

    But if it works out as described, where it's possible to direct additional stuff without interfering with your normal actions, by imagining what you want done and having the device do it, it could be used to control a robot helper or ADDITIONAL artificial limbs.

    How many times have people wanted extra hands while soldering, welding, assembling models or appliances, building houses, repairing cars, ...?

    Looks like Doctor Octopus may

  • Sounds messy...
  • It is interesting to me that this is conveyed as a "robot" controlled by a human interface. It always seemed to me that the field of robotics generally tended to slide towards autonomy, not control by human interface. I would be more likely to dub this an achievement for a cybernetics or biomedical field than a robotics field. Of course, since few people seem to agree on what makes a robot a robot and whether autonomy is a requirement or not, I suppose I could just be picking at words...
    • I concur, and this is something that's been increasingly annoying me over the last few years (get off my lawn!). People seem to refer to anything with more than a couple of degrees of freedom as a "robot" even when it's blatantly remote controlled by a human operator. Robot Wars is a prime offender - they're not robots, they're glorified friggin' RC cars. I always thought the best entry would be one that jammed the others' radios while roaming around autonomously with an angle grinder.

      TFA is talking about
  • Rather, ambiguity:

    Has Honda developed an interface by which brains can control robots, or the other way around?

  • I was gonna build something like this with some statistical stuff too... Only for computer games. But I worked out it was too expensive, and too dangerous. Looks like Honda beat me and my fantasy hobby project to it. Lol! ;P

  • Control the house, the mobility device, you name it.
  • If it is controlled by a human, via a joystick or psionic helmet/implant... it is NOT a robot. UAVs are not robots. The "bots" in Robot Wars were not robots, they were RC cars with weapons.

    Your car isn't a robot if you are controlling it, directly or remotely. If your car was sensing it's environment and navigating on it's own, then it would be a robot.

    Who'da thought Honda would be responsible for building the first Veritech fighters?

  • The example video shows discrimination of 4 available discrete actions. The eventual goal would presumably be to discriminate tens, hundreds, or thousands of actions, if not smoothly varying parameters of action.

    There are two main ways to go about this:
    1. Train the algorithms processing the brain signals.
    2. Train the brain signals.

    The best approach is probably to do both in concert using real-time feedback to the user about how the algorithm is currently interpreting the signal. The user can then learn (exp

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