What if you could control a robot — wait, don’t answer yet — with your mind? Pretty great, right? That’s what the Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-embodiment (VERE) group is working on, and it’s made some pretty good, you know, strides. New Scientist details a test utilizing fMRI brain activity-sensing technology to control a robot in France from a laboratory in Israel. The volunteer was able to perform tasks like walking around a room, following a person with the small ‘bot and locating a teapot, using visuals from a camera embedded in the robot’s head. There’s a “small” delay in the technology, but researcher Ori Cohen insists that it’s possible to anticipate and compensate for it.
The technology, which one scientist compared to Avatar, naturally, has some truly beneficial potential applications, and the scientists have plans to test it out with paralyzed subjects, giving them the opportunity to control a surrogate with their mind. The fMRI technology, meanwhile, may be swapped out for an electrode-based electroencephalogram system, and the scientists plan to try things out with a Japanese robot that is roughly the height of a human for future testing. Check out a video of the project in its current state after the break.