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Honda Develops Brain Interface For Robot Control

timothy posted about 5 years ago | from the of-course-it's-already-tomorrow-in-japan dept.

Robotics 88

narramissic writes "Honda has released a video of experiments showing a person wearing a large hemispheric scanner on his head and controlling Honda's Asimo robot by visualizing movement. Back in 2006, Honda and ATR researchers managed to get a robotic hand to move by analyzing brain activity using a large MRI scanner. This latest work uses EEG to measure the electrical activity in a person's brain and blood flow within the brain using near-infrared spectroscopy (NIRS) to produce data that is then interpreted into control information. While both the EEG and NIRS techniques are established, the analyzing process for the data is new. Honda said the system uses statistical processing of the complex information to distinguish brain activities with high precision without any physical motion."

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Next Leap (3, Insightful)

I3ooI3oo (1215428) | about 5 years ago | (#27402973)

While controlling something (robot/UAV) will get easier and easier. The problem I see is getting the Input side working for total control. Combining the technology that is being developed to help the blind and deaf for something like this would be the next great leap.

Re:Next Leap (1)

Vectronic (1221470) | about 5 years ago | (#27403113)

House M.D. did this in the latest episode (yesterday's) to some extent.

The patient was paralyzed ("locked in syndrome") and could only communicate by blinking, then lost that ability, so they used an EEG and trained ("think 'up'") the patient to move the cursor on the screen.

Either way, I'm not really impressed as I'm sure this has been going on for about as long as the EEG has been around, which has been for over 100 years now, and NIRS for about 70.

Re:Next Leap (3, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403253)

I wouldn't be impressed if I were you, either. Obviously you are one of the great minds in human-computer interface work and have a list of accomplishments that dwarfs this minor stepping stone of an achievement.

I pshaw in the general direction of Japan along with you, brother.

Prior Art? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27405357)

I own one of these, it's in my desk right now:


Been out for a while. (Actually I found it via a /. article.)

Seems like the same thing to me?

Wonder if (1)

WillRobinson (159226) | about 5 years ago | (#27405415)

The guys working with the person wearing the input device, texted a hot babe to come by and just see if the robot spazzes out.

Re:Next Leap (1)

AmiMoJo (196126) | about 5 years ago | (#27415883)

Or maybe it will be video games...

Anyone who has seen Angelic Layer will know what I am talking about. Guy invents direct thought control system for medical applications, but in order to get it funded develops it into a game. Makes sense, go for a very large market to help reduce the cost of the technology and rapidly improve it and use that to push the more limited medical applications.

one bad thing though... (2, Funny)

interested pyro (1499899) | about 5 years ago | (#27402979)

what happens when the guy thinks of women on the beach?

Re:one bad thing though... (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403527)

It's Japan dude. More likely he's thinking about taking his inflatable doll to the beach or trying to use the robot arm for better school girl upskirts.

Re:one bad thing though... (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#27411201)

It's Japan dude. Why would he have an inflatable doll in a country where you can hire schoolgirls?

I for one.... (4, Funny)

furby076 (1461805) | about 5 years ago | (#27402983)

welcome our new bucket wearing overlords! All hail Lord Bucket!

Re:I for one.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403691)

All your buckets are belong us.

lord bucket hails you (0, Troll)

circletimessquare (444983) | about 5 years ago | (#27403863)

and reminds you that there is an ongoing chicken holocaust worldwide

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buckethead [wikipedia.org]

Re:I for one.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27404355)

It's pronounced 'boo-kay'.

Army of the Future (2, Interesting)

lymond01 (314120) | about 5 years ago | (#27403035)

The book Starship Troopers by Henlein had people wearing huge armored suits equipped with nukes, lasers, etc. Perhaps we can just have robot armies controlled by humans mentally.

Or maybe robot miners. And robot deep sea divers. And robot firemen. It doesn't all have to be destruction and chaos to be cool. :-)

Re:Army of the Future (1)

GMonkeyLouie (1372035) | about 5 years ago | (#27403141)

Heinlein's character Sergeant Zim (I think?) made the argument that men in the field were still the most superior weapon, and the only ones capable of stealing small objects out from under the enemy's noses, taking captives, and adapting to complex objectives.

No robots for you.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about 5 years ago | (#27407201)

No no. You still have men-sized (roughly) robots who are controlled mentally by men in La-Z-Boy armchairs. You don't need to put the person in the middle of the field, just the robot, since all its motions mimic the person's will.

Re:Army of the Future (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27408271)

No no. You still have men-sized (roughly) robots who are controlled mentally by men in La-Z-Boy armchairs. You don't need to put the person in the middle of the field, just the robot, since all its motions mimic the person's will.

Only if these robots are communicating to the men in recliners (what women can't be lazy?) via a technology that can transmit large amounts of complex information very quickly, all while lacking physical wires/cables and nearly impossible to jam. Until we figure-out how build such communication technology, you'll still need units in the field capable of independent thought and action. So unless a robust and flexible AI system is availble, that means you'll still need some human soldiers on the front-lines.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

TheGeniusIsOut (1282110) | about 5 years ago | (#27408593)

...via a technology that can transmit large amounts of complex information very quickly, all while lacking physical wires/cables and nearly impossible to jam.

Entangled photons, imposible to jam or eavesdrop upon, and as nearly instantaneous as we can measure.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

lymond01 (314120) | about 5 years ago | (#27409673)

Entangled photons, imposible to jam or eavesdrop upon, and as nearly instantaneous as we can measure.

Oh, snap! Someone go told!

Kidding, but it's a good idea. But we probably don't need anything more than what WiMax can deliver -- we're not transferring GB of information, just a continuous stream of data. Not too much different from an MMO, and the graphics need not be as good. You'll want technical feedback of your robot's status (health bar?) as well as eye-in-the-sky recon, but since you'll probably be VRing the thing...

Come to think of it, VRing probably isn't the most efficient way -- you're limiting yourself to one point of view. You'll probably want multiple displays from different angles (including, of course, rear)...it would take a while to get used to of course.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

Nefarious Wheel (628136) | about 5 years ago | (#27408413)

Read "Waldo & Magic Incorporated", also by Heinlein. Teleoperation, robot mimics at a distance. Again, science follows science fiction, if at a safe and respectful distance.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

HiThere (15173) | about 5 years ago | (#27409139)

Waldos were first used to handle hot things inside nuclear power plants. Since then they've expanded their capabilities and uses. But until now they haven't been mentally controlled. (And I'm not certain that this counts...but it's sure getting a lot closer.)

The generic term is telefactor. Waldo is the name given to tele-operated hands. (And as I recall that's how "Waldo" in the story "Waldo" used the items.)

Re:Army of the Future (3, Funny)

MikeRT (947531) | about 5 years ago | (#27403367)

It doesn't all have to be destruction and chaos to be cool. :-)

Yes, it does.

Re:Army of the Future (1)

ArsonSmith (13997) | about 5 years ago | (#27403967)

scientist: "here we have the latest in robotic advances, we have..."
audience member: (interrupting) "Can you *beep* it?"
scientist: "Huh?"
audience member: "Can you *beep* it?"
scientist: "Uhh, no."
whole audience: (all getting up and leaving) "grumbling"

Video? (1)

Thanshin (1188877) | about 5 years ago | (#27403067)

"Honda has released a video of experiments."

On a completely unrelated note, I've developed a series of exercises to read slashdot and reply, by pure will. I don't even require a computer.

I present this text as sample of the experiment's result.

Re:Video? (4, Funny)

kheldan (1460303) | about 5 years ago | (#27403109)

Please, don't show us a video of how this is done, nobody wants to see where you insert the CAT5 cable.

Re:Video? (1)

Mneten (1046214) | about 5 years ago | (#27404607)

I want to see where the CAT5 cable gets inserted! if its not too bad, I'd think about getting myself modded...

Sincerity is required (2, Interesting)

tecnico.hitos (1490201) | about 5 years ago | (#27403135)

I wonder what would happen if the subject felt the urge of punching someone, among other things.

This could lead to very strange situations.

Robot Control?! (4, Funny)

Chris Burke (6130) | about 5 years ago | (#27403157)

Why on earth would these gal-danged scientists create a brain interface for robot control?! The fools have already ensured that the robots will take over our society and force us into slavery. Do they have to make it so easy for them that the robots can just control us directly via our brains?! Are they trying to destroy mankind? These scientists have gone mad!

What's that? Oh... never mind.

Re:Robot Control?! (1)

gambit3 (463693) | about 5 years ago | (#27403513)

Don't worry. We'll all have this inhibitor chip put at the top of our spine that will keep the super-smart robots from controlling our brain.

Re:Robot Control?! (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403837)

What if during a Nuclear Fusion test the chip is fried? WHAT THEN SIR!?!?!?

Re:Robot Control?! (1)

Walt Dismal (534799) | about 5 years ago | (#27414835)

I shall rule Earth using robots and the flu! (Donning helmet) "Now, my mighty robots, kill Thor, while he's distracted by his explosive diarrhea!"

Robot, Robot, In The Hall: +1, Informative (0, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403171)

Who are the biggest WAR CRIMINALS [whitehouse.org] of them all.

Thank you for helping spread freedom and democracy around the world.

Yours In Socialism,
Kilgore Trout [flickr.com]

I fully expect... (1)

TheSpoom (715771) | about 5 years ago | (#27403197)

...this to lead to humans battling it out in tournaments controlling huge, hundred ton robots.

I better be able to play as a Nova. [wikipedia.org]

Re:I fully expect... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403521)

Ahh, that brings me back... I spent so many hours in front of that game... Beating the two hidden bosses (Fire and Ice) and finishing on a difficulty level that took two secrets just to reach...

Jaguar's overhead throw was just so overpowered and cheap.

What could possibly go wrong... (1)

catdevnull (531283) | about 5 years ago | (#27403209)

Maybe I watch way too much of Futurama/Simpsons/Family Guy/Sci-Fi channel...

Re:What could possibly go wrong... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27408877)

The result of the "wrong" is most certainly a greatly improved spam filter. Just imagine all the dirty and disgusting thoughts these robots have to ignore.

So it begins... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403227)

I saw this coming. You see these Acuras? See their mugs? God-damn transformers, I'm telling you.

Re:So it begins... (1)

socz (1057222) | about 5 years ago | (#27404511)

and everyone laughed when i said the veritech from macross/robotech would happen one day...

Creepy, next thing you'll know they'll have (2)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | about 5 years ago | (#27403361)

DRM in your brain. If you get a song stuck in your head you didn't pay royalties for... Not to mention the political implications of this, no more need for torture when you have a Romulan brain probe that can download the information you want out of the person's brain. Or how such technology could be used by a dictator to control the population by punishing unloyal thoughts.

Re:Creepy, next thing you'll know they'll have (1)

MrMista_B (891430) | about 5 years ago | (#27403725)

There is never a 'need' for torture. It is /impossible/ for torture to provide accurate information about anything. Torture never produces reliable information.

The purpose of torture is to cause pain, not to extract information. Reality isn't a TV show.

Re:Creepy, next thing you'll know they'll have (1)

Logic Worshipper (1518487) | about 5 years ago | (#27403881)

True, I should have written "excuse for torture".

But would a brain probe be a form of torture? Should it be banned by the Geneva conventions?

Mind Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403439)

Why is it that slashdot accepts this sort of this as real but laughs at people who are the victims of government psychotronic mind control? I've been plagued with this for years - making me hear voices, making my walls knock, causing my HVAC system to spread knock out gas throughout my apartment that leaves me out for days at a time.

So why is this possible but mind control NOT? Why does no one recognize this?

Re:Mind Control (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27413371)

Its mostly due to it not using made-up words like 'psychotronic'
Seriously though, hearing voices, knocking noises, believing you've lost days of your life, etc - thats normal boring run-of-the-mill paranoid schitzophrenia. People get that outside the USA too, you know.

forget the robots! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#27403563)

I'd want a mind control link for driving one of their cars! That way, we could keep our hands free for doing other tasks while driving, like talking on the cell phone, eating, or shaving!

Re:forget the robots! (1)

dkleinsc (563838) | about 5 years ago | (#27404497)

Except that you won't have your brain free for doing other tasks while driving. That's why hand-free devices don't actually make driving while cell-phoning significantly safer.

Of course, maybe you drive in Boston or Chicago, where clearly brain-free driving isn't a problem.

Re:forget the robots! (1)

cashman73 (855518) | about 5 years ago | (#27404749)

Or better yet, a thought control cell phone! So instead of texting your friends while driving, you could just connect directly to their thoughts! Although that could get a little scary!

Soon... (1)

Pad-Lok (831143) | about 5 years ago | (#27403773)

We will be able to have real Battlemech combats at Solaris IV!

Japanese mechas, pffffft, goddamn candyasses.

Re:Soon... (1)

Icegryphon (715550) | about 5 years ago | (#27408233)

Heck yeah Battletech FTW, How does it feel to be strapped to a walking nuclear reactor in the morning? neuro-helmets, Idea born long long before this article, damn clanners.

Battletech? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27403833)

I can't stop thinking about the neural impulse helmet used pilot the mechs when I see this.

Have I seen this before? (1)

Babba 0'Kelvin (465200) | about 5 years ago | (#27404283)

Isn't this a slightly fancier, much more well-funded version of what the "Prototype This" hackers did in a few days:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leVLTFy4vXo [youtube.com]
(around minute 1) and
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h6aX2-o92ek [youtube.com]


Re:Have I seen this before? (1)

amoeba1911 (978485) | about 5 years ago | (#27404849)

Everything in Asimo is a slightly fancier and much more well-funded and publicized version of everything that's already been done before. But most people see Asimo and they're amazed and they become instant fanboi's of it because this is the first time they see such-n-such technology.

Part of it.. (1)

zogger (617870) | about 5 years ago | (#27415035)

..is that this is Honda, a name brand major manufacturer who are in a position to mass produce things that actually work and are affordable. Sure, random joe nerd youtoober or pick a university project of choice might come up with something spiffy, but when Honda does it, there's at least some hope you might get one, one day.

Rember the remote controlled rat? (1)

belligerent0001 (966585) | about 5 years ago | (#27404701)

Hey what would happen if they used this robotic interface to remotely control the 'remote controlled rat' of a couple of years ago? That might actually be kinda fun when you think about it...plus it might be helpful in fully understanding the complexities of the....rat....race...buhah..buuwhahahaha

C'mon Battlemechs! (1)

CestusGW (814880) | about 5 years ago | (#27404967)

Sweet! Ars was just covering a story about using carbon nanotubes for artificial muscles, and now we have the neural interface controls we need too. If only ITER would hurry up and get us to the point of developing compact fusion reactors, we'd be all set to go.

Gregory House did it first. (1)

nani popoki (594111) | about 5 years ago | (#27405803)

Last night's episode of "House" (FOX TV) had a gadget that used EEG to move a cursor so a paralyzed patient could answer yes/no questions. Talk about synchronicity!

Applications (1)

Ungrounded Lightning (62228) | about 5 years ago | (#27406229)

An immediate application, of course, is prosthetics for lost or damaged limbs.

But if it works out as described, where it's possible to direct additional stuff without interfering with your normal actions, by imagining what you want done and having the device do it, it could be used to control a robot helper or ADDITIONAL artificial limbs.

How many times have people wanted extra hands while soldering, welding, assembling models or appliances, building houses, repairing cars, ...?

Looks like Doctor Octopus may soon be technologically feasible.

I saw that in a Client Eastwood movie... (1)

flashfire (74439) | about 5 years ago | (#27406645)

Firefox (1982) was about Soviet jet that could (at least in part) take command from the pilot's thought; they just had to think in Russian. Also, if memory servers me correct, there was research being done along this path at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the 90s. Nice to see a profit motivated company pursuing this technology.

Strange that it refers to a "Robot" (1)

BJ_Covert_Action (1499847) | about 5 years ago | (#27408337)

It is interesting to me that this is conveyed as a "robot" controlled by a human interface. It always seemed to me that the field of robotics generally tended to slide towards autonomy, not control by human interface. I would be more likely to dub this an achievement for a cybernetics or biomedical field than a robotics field. Of course, since few people seem to agree on what makes a robot a robot and whether autonomy is a requirement or not, I suppose I could just be picking at words...

Re:Strange that it refers to a "Robot" (1)

fractoid (1076465) | about 5 years ago | (#27411535)

I concur, and this is something that's been increasingly annoying me over the last few years (get off my lawn!). People seem to refer to anything with more than a couple of degrees of freedom as a "robot" even when it's blatantly remote controlled by a human operator. Robot Wars is a prime offender - they're not robots, they're glorified friggin' RC cars. I always thought the best entry would be one that jammed the others' radios while roaming around autonomously with an angle grinder.

TFA is talking about a Waldo, not a robot.

Grammar Error in Headline! (1)

zippthorne (748122) | about 5 years ago | (#27408869)

Rather, ambiguity:

Has Honda developed an interface by which brains can control robots, or the other way around?

Hmph... (1)

the-advanced-lemon (1398813) | about 5 years ago | (#27409527)

I was gonna build something like this with some statistical stuff too... Only for computer games. But I worked out it was too expensive, and too dangerous. Looks like Honda beat me and my fantasy hobby project to it. Lol! ;P

Question (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27410307)

What happens to you when you drive past a billboard for the latest Godzilla movie? Scary thought...

Think of the children. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about 5 years ago | (#27411177)

What's next? Controlling robot cars with their brains?!?!

They must be stopped.

!Robot (1)

AP31R0N (723649) | about 5 years ago | (#27414963)

If it is controlled by a human, via a joystick or psionic helmet/implant... it is NOT a robot. UAVs are not robots. The "bots" in Robot Wars were not robots, they were RC cars with weapons.

Your car isn't a robot if you are controlling it, directly or remotely. If your car was sensing it's environment and navigating on it's own, then it would be a robot.

Who'da thought Honda would be responsible for building the first Veritech fighters?

How best to train? (1)

akakaak (512725) | about 5 years ago | (#27416217)

The example video shows discrimination of 4 available discrete actions. The eventual goal would presumably be to discriminate tens, hundreds, or thousands of actions, if not smoothly varying parameters of action.

There are two main ways to go about this:
1. Train the algorithms processing the brain signals.
2. Train the brain signals.

The best approach is probably to do both in concert using real-time feedback to the user about how the algorithm is currently interpreting the signal. The user can then learn (explicitly or implicitly) what mental processes lead to what action outcomes. In this way the user will learn to control the system in much the same way we learn and constantly relearn how to control our own limbs.

A significant issue will be how good the signal is that can be obtained with EEG and NIRS. Hopefully EEG alone is enough, because while NIRS takes some significant hardware, you could wear an EEG cap around all day pretty easily if you really had to.

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