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Mind-controlled robot gives the disabled a taste of home

A brain-guided telepresence robot can stand in for people with motor disabilities.

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Brain-controlled robot limbs have already helped the disabled gain some mobility, but full-fledged robots have proven elusive: how do you use thoughts to steer a free-roaming machine? Swiss researchers think they have the answer. They've developed a mind-controlled telepresence robot that lets those with motor disabilities travel when it would otherwise be impractical. It's ultimately a laptop on a pedestal, but it uses clever semi-autonomous software to take the hard work out of controlling where the robot goes. You only have to don an EEG-based cap and imagine moving your hands or feet -- the robot plots a path based on your commands, and avoids obstacles all on its own.

The technology is still young, and isn't expected to reach the market for years. However, it's promising: testers got used to piloting the robot within 10 days. If everything goes well, being paralyzed or bed-ridden would be no obstacle to visiting your family at home, or attending a meeting as if you were there.

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