Researchers at the Long Beach Veterans Affairs Medical Center and the University of California, Irvine have successfully demonstrated a pair of robotic legs controlled by the user's brain, potentially opening the door for new types of intelligent prostheses for paraplegic people. Presenting their results in a paper posted on arXiv, they describe how the device uses a cap to measure EEG signals from the brain, translating them into bodily movements.
While future improvements could allow the user to change speed and direction and perform actions such as sitting down and standing up, the current implementation of the system is only capable of alternating between binary "idling" and "walking" states. Another issue is so-called "false alarms," which, as the researchers note, "carry the risk of bodily harm in future BCI-prostheses for overground walking" — four of these occurred during testing, with the device's pre-programmed startup sequence causing them to last at least five seconds each.
Still, the demonstration is impressive, adding to existing research in the field — scientists have previously developed a mind-controlled flying drone and a wheeled robot capable of rolling around the home. Check out the video below to see the legs in use by an able-bodied subject.
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