Scientists Control ‘Avatar’ Robot by Thought Over Long Distance [VIDEO]_Featured_, Science, Technology Tuesday, July 10th, 2012
(Huffington Post) We’ve just come one step closer to making “Avatar” a reality.
Scientists with the international Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment project have, for the first time, enabled a person to control a small automaton thousands of miles away using nothing but thoughts.
According to New Scientist, by using an fMRI machine to scan the brain in real-time, roboticists were able to give a university student in Israel the ability to control a small robot at the Béziers Technology Institute in France.
The entire experiment was done over an Internet connection and there was some delay in the communication, as it takes time to register neural activity as intended movement.
While the project is a huge leap forward, it isn’t the first example of mind-controlled robots. In 2009, Honda unveiled a helmet that allows the wearer to control an Asimo robot without moving a muscle, the Guardian reported. That project, however, wasn’t demonstrated over long-distances and required up to three hours to calibrate before motion was possible.
The out-of-body nature of this experiment seems to have made the test subject feel like he actually was the avatar.
“I really felt like I was there,” the robot controller, Tirosh Shapira, told New Scientist. “At one point the connection failed. One of the researchers picked the robot up to see what the problem was and I was like, ‘Oi, put me down!’”
The project hopes to create an experience that could turn fiction into reality.