A new system that combines artificial intelligence, robotics and a brain-machine interface takes a step towards restoring function and autonomy for people without full use of the limbs.
For more than 30 years, after an accident in adolescence, Robert “Buz” Chmielewski has been quadriplegic: minimal movements and sensations in his hands and fingers. In November, however, he manipulated two robotic limbs with his mind to enjoy a dessert.
An experimental plant
Almost two years ago, Buz underwent 10-hour brain surgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore as part of a clinical trial originally led by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency - DARPA and leveraging advanced arts developed by the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory (APL).
The goal of the experimentation? Allow participants to control assistive devices and allow the perception of physical stimuli (by touching the limbs) using neurosignals from the brain.
The surgeons implanted six sets of electrodes in both sides of the brain, and within months he was able to simultaneously control two robotic limbs through a brain-machine interface.
Robotic Arts: The next steps (or should I say pasTi?) Of this experimentation
Francesco Tenore, a neuroscientist and principal investigator for the Smart Prosthetics study, says the next steps for this effort include several improvements. Not just the expansion of the number and types of daily life activities that Buz can do with robotic limbs, but also additional sensory feedback for not having to rely on sight to know if he is succeeding in his actions.
Many people take it for granted. Being able to simply eat alone is an incredible achievement. A turning point.