Italian and Swiss researchers have created an experimental telepresence robot, which can be operated by disabled people wearing an electroencephalogram (EEG) headset that detects their brain signals.
To smooth out its performance, the robot, which consists of a laptop mounted on a rolling base, features sensors and software that enable it to avoid obstacles and find the best route to where it is being instructed to go.
Disabled users guide the robot by imagining movements with their feet or hands, each of which is translated by software into an instruction for the robot to go forward, backward, left, or right. Using its control software and nine infrared sensors, the robot surveys its surroundings and determines the best way to move around following the user's directions.
Researchers tested the robot by having participants with motor disabilities navigate it through several rooms filled with obstacles, comparing a group with direct control of the robot to a group in which the robot assisted in its navigation. They found the group in which the robots assisted in navigation had an easier time controlling the robot and completed the courses faster.
The researchers envision the technology being used to grant those with motor disabilities greater independence.
From Technology Review
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