U researchers developing robotic arm controlled by thoughts

Researchers at the University of Minnesota are pioneering a robotic arm controlled by people’s thoughts.

The technology is said to be the first of its kind, as it doesn’t require a risky implant.

Test subjects wear a sensor cap that picks up on brain signals and sends the message to the computer controlling the robotic arm.

"I'm not thinking about telling my arm to go left, right, up, down, I just think go towards that object,” said PhD student and member of the research team, Brad Edelman.

The team used eight healthy test subjects, all of whom were able to control a robotic arm to pick up objects in fixed locations with an average success rate above 80 percent. They were also able to move objects from the table onto the shelf with an average success rate above 70 percent.

Biomedical engineering professor Bin He is the lead researcher. He says he hopes this research will eventually benefit amputees and people who are paralyzed.

“This is exciting as all subjects accomplished the tasks using a completely noninvasive technique,” said He who hopes to give individuals living with these conditions more independence without the risk of surgical implants.