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Mind Over Wheels? Scientist Develop Brain-Powered Wheelchair
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
July 23, 2003

LONDON, ENGLAND--New Scientist magazine reported Wednesday that Swiss and Spanish researchers are developing a wheelchair that will be controlled entirely with the user's thoughts. This could mean a whole new way of getting around for people who cannot manually operate a wheelchair or use hand controls.

The system is currently being tested on a wheeled robot, with the users giving commands to turn both directions and to move forward by using their brains to direct the robot. The design team said that after just two days of training the robot is as easy to control with the mind as it is by hand.

The system is being designed by Jose Millan of the Dalle Molle Institute for Perceptual Artificial Intelligence in Martigny, Switzerland, along with scientists at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, and the Center for Biomedical Engineering Research in Barcelona, Spain.

Its designers claim that a wheelchair user will simply send messages in the form of brain activity through electrodes embedded in a skullcap, and over a wireless link to a computer that will direct the wheelchair. The system also is able to detect objects in its way so it does not run into anything, the report said.

The article did not give an indication as to when the device would be available to the average user.

Related article:
"Wheelchair moves at the speed of thought" (New Scientist)

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