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Brain-controlled prosthetic hand to become reality

Summary: Researchers are developing a sophisticated prosthetic hand that can be directly controlled by the thoughts of the user. Source: Cordis Imagine a patient controlling the movement of his or her prosthetic limb simply by thinking of commands. It may sound like science fiction but will soon become a reality thanks to the EU-funded DeTOP project. A consortium of engineers, neuroscientists and clinicians has made great strides in further developing the technology behind more natural and functional prostheses. The team uses an osseointegrated human-machine gateway (OHMG) to develop a physical link between a person and a robotic prosthesis. A patient in Sweden was the first recipient of titanium implants with the OHMG system. The OHMG is directly fitted to bones in the user’s arms, from w...

Microrobots show promise for treating tumors

Summary: Newly designed microbots can deliver vital drugs throughout the human body. The microbots can traverse the body and penetrate bodily mucus to efficiently deliver medications to target sites. Source: CalTech Targeting medical treatment to an ailing body part is a practice as old as medicine itself. A Band-Aid is placed on a skinned knee. Drops go into itchy eyes. A broken arm goes into a cast. But often what ails us is inside the body and is not so easy to reach. In such cases, a treatment like surgery or chemotherapy might be called for. A pair of researchers in Caltech’s Division of Engineering and Applied Science are working on an entirely new form of treatment–microrobots that can deliver drugs to specific spots inside the body while being monitored and controlled from outside ...

Brain network evaluates robot likeability

Summary: Neuroimaging reveals brain area activity in the amygdala and prefrontal cortex helps people determine the likability of robots and suitability for social partnership. Source: SfN Researchers have identified a network of brain regions that work together to determine if a robot is a worthy social partner, according to a new study published in Journal of Neuroscience. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging, Astrid Rosenthal-von der Pütten, Fabien Grabenhorst, and colleagues evaluated brain activity from the prefrontal cortex and amygdala as human participants scored images of robots on their likability, familiarly, and human-likeness. The participants also chose the robot from which they would prefer to receive a gift, indicating their social value. Participants preferred more l...

3D printed prosthetic hand can guess how you play Rock, Paper, Scissors

Summary: A 3D printed hand which uses a computer interface to learn can replicate hand movements. Source: Hiroshima University Losing a limb, either through illness or accident, can present emotional and physical challenges for an amputee, damaging their quality of life. Prosthetic limbs can be very useful but are often expensive and difficult to use. The Biological Systems Engineering Lab at Hiroshima University has developed a new 3D printed prosthetic hand combined with a computer interface, which is their cheapest, lightest model that is more reactive to motion intent than before. Previous generations of their prosthetic hands have been made of metal, which is heavy and expensive to make. Professor Toshio Tsuji of the Graduate School of Engineering, Hiroshima University describes the m...

Brain cells for 3D vision discovered

Summary: Researchers have identified neurons in the brains of praying mantises that are able to compute 3D direction and distance. The findings may help to develop better technology for machine and robotic vision. Source: Newcastle University Scientists at Newcastle University have discovered neurons in insect brains that compute 3D distance and direction. Understanding these could help vision in robots. In stunning images captured under the microscope for the first time, the neurons were found in praying mantises. The work is published in Nature Communications today. In a specially-designed insect cinema, the mantises were fitted with 3D glasses and shown 3D movies of simulated bugs while their brain activity was monitored. When the image of the bug came into striking range for a predator...

Spotting objects amid clutter

Summary: Researchers have developed a new algorithm that enables robots to identify objects hidden in 3D data. The new system may help with improving robotic vehicles and autonomous robots. Source: MIT A new MIT-developed technique enables robots to quickly identify objects hidden in a three-dimensional cloud of data, reminiscent of how some people can make sense of a densely patterned “Magic Eye” image if they observe it in just the right way. Robots typically “see” their environment through sensors that collect and translate a visual scene into a matrix of dots. Think of the world of, well, “The Matrix,” except that the 1s and 0s seen by the fictional character Neo are replaced by dots — lots of dots — whose patterns and densities outline the objects in a particular scene. Conventional t...

First-ever successful mind-controlled robotic arm without brain implants

Summary: Using EEG and brain-computer interface technology, researchers have created a robotic arm that can be controlled without brain implants. Source: Carnegie Mellon University A team of researchers from Carnegie Mellon University, in collaboration with the University of Minnesota, has made a breakthrough in the field of noninvasive robotic device control. Using a noninvasive brain-computer interface (BCI), researchers have developed the first-ever successful mind-controlled robotic arm exhibiting the ability to continuously track and follow a computer cursor. Being able to noninvasively control robotic devices using only thoughts will have broad applications, in particular benefiting the lives of paralyzed patients and those with movement disorders. BCIs have been shown to achieve goo...

Research moves closer to brain-machine interface autonomy

Summary: Findings allow for the development of an autonomously updating brain-machine interface, which is able to improve on its own by learning about its subject without additional programming. The system could help develop new robotic prosthetics, which can perform more naturally. Source: University of Houston A University of Houston engineer is reporting in eNeuro that a brain-computer interface, a form of artificial intelligence, can sense when its user is expecting a reward by examining the interactions between single-neuron activities and the information flowing to these neurons, called the local field potential. Professor of biomedical engineering Joe Francis reports his team’s findings allow for the development of an autonomously updating brain-computer interface (BCI) that improve...

Six fingers per hand: Polydactyly equals extra motor ability

Summary: Polydactyly, a condition where one is born with an extra finger, has significant benefits when it comes to motor skill and control. fMRI neuroimaging reveals those with extra fingers are able to move the digits independently of other fingers. The findings could help with the development of new prosthetics that extend motor abilities. Source: University of Freiburg Polydactyly is the extraordinary condition of someone being born with more than five fingers or toes. In a case study published in Nature Communications, researchers from the University of Freiburg, Imperial College London, the University Hospital of Lausanne, and EPFL have for the first time examined the motor skills and sensorimotor brain areas in people with polydactyly. The results show that an extra finger can signi...

Dog-like robot made by students jumps, flips and trots

Summary: Stanford Doggo, a student-designed dog-like robot, can perform a variety of acrobatic tricks and traverse challenging environments. The student investors have provided construction plans and parts lists online for DIY scientists who wish to build their own version of the robopup. Source: Stanford Putting their own twist on robots that amble through complicated landscapes, the Stanford Student Robotics club’s Extreme Mobility team at Stanford University has developed a four-legged robot that is not only capable of performing acrobatic tricks and traversing challenging terrain but is also designed with reproducibility in mind. Anyone who wants their own version of the robot, dubbed Stanford Doggo, can consult comprehensive plans, code and a supply list that the students have made fr...

Children describe technology that gives them a sense of ambiguity as ‘creepy’

Summary: Children consider technologies that pose an ambiguous threat as ‘creepy’. Researchers pinpoint five aspects of technology that contribute to the feeling of ambiguity, examples of which are lack of control, ominous physical appearance and mimicry. Source: University of Washington Many parents express concerns about privacy and online safety in technology designed for their children. But we know much less about what children themselves find concerning in emerging technologies. Now University of Washington researchers have defined for the first time what children mean when they say technology is “creepy.” Kids in a new study described creepy technology as something that is unpredictable or poses an ambiguous threat that might cause physical harm or threaten an important relationship....

New AI Sees Like a Human, Filling in the Blanks

Summary: A new deep learning system takes glimpses of its surroundings, representing less than 20% of a 360-degree view and infers the rest of the environment. Source: UT Austin Computer scientists at The University of Texas at Austin have taught an artificial intelligence agent how to do something that usually only humans can do—take a few quick glimpses around and infer its whole environment, a skill necessary for the development of effective search-and-rescue robots that one day can improve the effectiveness of dangerous missions. The team, led by professor Kristen Grauman, Ph.D. candidate Santhosh Ramakrishnan and former Ph.D. candidate Dinesh Jayaraman (now at the University of California, Berkeley) published their results today in the journal Science Robotics. Most AI agents—computer...

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