Paralyzed Man Feeds Himself Using Robotic Arm System Connected to a Brain-Computer Interface

Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory researchers built a robotic arm system connected to a brain-computer interface to help a paralyzed man feed himself for the first time in nearly three decades. It enabled him to manipulate a knife and fork in order to cut food and bring it to his mouth using just his mind.

The system consists of two 96 channel sensory arrays and two 32 channel sensor arrays to facilitate the control of the robotic arms. What’s next for the team? They plan on upgrading the system to not only give them control of robotic arms, but also allow amputees to transform feelings of a phantom limb into real-world movements of a prosthetic. In related news, researchers have taught human brain cells how to play Pong.

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This shared control approach is intended to leverage the intrinsic capabilities of the brain machine interface and the robotic system, creating a ‘best of both worlds’ environment where the user can personalize the behavior of a smart prosthesis,” said Dr Francesco Tenore, a senior project manager in APL’s Research and Exploratory Development Department.

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