Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Humanoid Robots

Academic journal article Journal of College Science Teaching

Humanoid Robots

Article excerpt

A classic science-fiction scene shows a person wearing a metal skullcap with electrodes sticking out to detect the person's thoughts. Another science-fiction movie standard depicts robots doing humans' bidding. These two images have now been combined, thanks to University of Washington researchers who have controlled the movement of a humanoid robot with signals from a human brain.

"This is really a proof-of-concept demonstration," explains Rajesh Rao, associate professor of computer science and engineering at the University of Washington. "It suggests that one day we might be able to use semiautonomous robots for jobs such as helping disabled people or performing routine tasks in a person's home."

Researchers note the "thought commands" are currently limited to a few basic instructions. For instance, a person can instruct the robot to move forward, choose one of two available objects, pick it up, and bring it to one of two locations. Preliminary results indicate 94% accuracy in choosing the correct object.

Objects available to be picked up are seen by the robot's camera and conveyed to the user's computer screen. Each object lights up randomly. When the person observes the desired object and sees it suddenly brighten, the brain registers surprise. …

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