Researchers from France and Japan have taken us one step closer to an Avatar-like future by developing a robot that can be controlled by thought alone. While it's primarily intended for severely paralyzed people, there's no doubt that this technology will eventually be used by pretty much everyone else — whether it be to travel remotely to far away and inaccessible places, or just have it clean out your garage.
Roboticists at the CNRS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory and the CNRS-LIRMM Interactive Digital Human group have achieved what they call "robotic re-embodiment." They were able to do this by using an EEG controlled interface (what's worn as an electrode cap) and then mapping and translating brain signals into commands the robot could understand.
EEG technologies and neural interface devices are nothing new, but this marks the first time an actual robot has been controlled in such a manner.
The system also utilizes artificial intelligence so that it can not only understand the user's intentions, but also infer the particulars of the task at hand. As a result, the robot won't have to be micromanaged when performing simple tasks like walking to the end of a hall, or picking up a dropped object. Essentially, once the user focuses on a target, the robot's AI takes over and knows what to do with it.
Now all the researchers have to do is build a robot that doesn't look so clunky and pathetic.