What it looks like when a monkey controls an advanced robotic arm with his mind

Watch this video and behold the future. The monkey in the far right of the frame has a brain-computer interface that allows him to control a highly-advanced robotic arm with his thoughts. Soon, humans will be doing the same.

In today's issue of IEEE Spectrum, this video illustrates an article about advances in brain-computer interfaces. Monkeys, rats, and humans have already controlled computers and robots with their minds. But IEEE editor Erico Guizzo says, "This seven-degrees-of-freedom robot arm is probably the most complex system a monkey has ever mastered with its thoughts alone."

Illustration for article titled What it looks like when a monkey controls an advanced robotic arm with his mind

According to the magazine:

The video above shows the experiment. Note the monkey on the right side of the screen. It uses its right arm to tap a button. (Its left arm is gently restrained inside a tube.) This triggers the robotic manipulator labeled DENSO [left side of the screen] to position a black knob at an arbitrary point in space. The monkey then controls its articulated robotic arm to grasp the knob.

After gently touching the knob, the monkey places its mouth on a straw: it then gets a drink reward. (Actually, the animal places its mouth on the straw before even touching the knob; that's because it has learned, from repetition, that it's about to get the reward.) After that, both robotic arms reset. Again, the monkey taps the button, waits for the knob's new position, and readily and precisely moves its robotic arm to get a drink.

In this experiment, the monkey received two brain implants: one in the hand area and another in the arm area of its motor cortex. The implants monitor the firing of motor neurons and send this data to a computer, which translates the patterns into commands for the robotic arm.

Next step: bionic limbs for humans.

via IEEE Spectrum


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Why is it always an ADVANCED robotic arm? Was the previous version steam powered?