Developing a robot controlled by the power of thought

Max Ortiz Catalan and Yiannis Karayiannidis, both working as researchers at the department of Electrical Engineering at Chalmers, want to develop robotic technology that can be used to increase the quality of life for people with motor disabilities. They are cooperating in an interdisciplinary project where biomedical engineering and robotics are combined.
   ​Max Ortiz Catalan ​         Yiannis Karayiannidis
What is the aim of your project?

The aim is to investigate how the machine’s artificial intelligence can facilitate the achievement of certain task initiated by a human, who has overall control while delegating unnecessary burden to the robot.
We are aiming at appropriately blending commands sent to the robot using human myoelectric signals with autonomous robot control driven by the sensors on the robot. A first example that we will consider is a simple robot that is controlled by the human but it can autonomously avoid obstacles.

How is it possible to control a robot by using the power of thought?
The “power of thought” results in myoelectric signals that reflect the human intention of motion. By measuring, processing, and decoding these signals, the human intention could be send as a control command to the robot.

In which applications could this be used?
There is a variety of relevant applications related to partial automation such as assistive devices like exoskeleton (an external, artificial skeleton that protects and helps the person to move) or powered wheelchairs where the control is shared between a motor impaired human user and the device. 

What are the main challenges you are confronted to?
The most important challenge is to make a system that the human user can accept both in terms of performance and ease of use.

This project is a part of an initiative to encourage interdisciplinary research. What can your areas of research learn from each other?
Observing how humans are doing things (e.g. through muscles’ activity) can help roboticists to design human-inspired control algorithms so that robots could become more friendly to humans.

Read more about interdisciplinary seed projects in Electrical Engineering:
Initiative that takes research across boundaries

Read more about Dr. Max Ortiz Catalan and his research

Read more about Dr. Yiannis Karayiannidis and his research

Published: Wed 28 Jun 2017. Modified: Mon 14 Aug 2017