Robot Avatar in France Controlled by Thoughts of Operator in Japan
The scanner works by measuring changes in blood flow to the brain’s primary motor cortex, and using this the team was able to create an algorithm that could distinguish between each thought of movement. The commands were then sent via an internet connection to a small robot at the Béziers Technology Institute in France.
The set-up allowed Shapira to control the robot in near real time with his thoughts, while a camera on the robot’s head allowed him to see from the robot’s perspective. When he thought of moving his left or right hand, the robot moved 30 degrees to the left or right. Imagining moving his legs made the robot walk forward.
To test the extent of his feelings of embodiment, the researchers also surprised him with a mirror.
“I really felt like I was there,” Shapira says. “At one point the connection failed. One of the researchers picked the robot up to see what the problem was and I was like, ‘Oi, put me down!’”