Scientists figure out a way to correct a robot's mistakes via brain waves

Is there a bigger nerdy childhood fantasy than being able to use our thoughts to direct a robot to carry out tasks?

Maybe not, but thanks to the good folks at MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Boston University, mind-controlled robots aren’t entirely a dream any more.

“We’ve developed a system that uses EEG brain-activity data to correct a robot’s mistakes in real time,” CSAIL research scientist Stephanie Gil told Digital Trends. “For several years researchers have tried to develop robots that can be controlled by brain signals. The problem is that to do this, most of the time humans have to ‘think’ in a specific way that computers can recognize, like looking at a flashing light that corresponds to a particular task. Obviously, this is a pretty unnatural experience for us, and can be very mentally taxing. And it’s especially problematic if we are overseeing a robot to do a dangerous task in manufacturing or construction. In our case the users do not need to modulate their brain activity, they just have to evaluate the actions of the robot: a task that is very natural to humans.”

For the study, the human participant wears an electroencephalography (EEG) brain cap for recording neural activity. They then watch as a robot performs an object-sorting task, and use nothing more than their thoughts to correct it if it makes a mistake. This is done using a machine-learning algorithm capable of classifying brain waves in just 10-30 milliseconds.

correct robot mistakes with mind 1the feedback system enables human operators to the s choice in real time  jason dorfman mit

“I could imagine a system like this being used to let a person monitor robots as they perform tasks that are deemed too dirty or dangerous for humans, such as on a manufacturing floor or even underwater and in space,” CSAIL PhD candidate Joseph DelPreto told Digital Trends. “Alternatively, such a system could allow an autonomous car to drive itself while still being kept in check at all times by a human driver in case it makes a mistake.”

There’s still work to be done before it can reach that point, of course. The system as it currently exists handles only a relatively simple binary choice activity, although it suggests that one day there will be far more intuitive ways for us to control robots.

As Boston University PhD candidate Andres F. Salazar-Gomez put it to us, “This is important because it means that people don’t have to train themselves to think in a certain way. The machine is the one that adapts to you, instead of the other way around.”

Product Review

This was 3D printed? With the Anycubic Photon, you can't tell

Never mind the fact that the Anycubic Photon 3D printer only costs 500 bucks. In terms of sheer print quality, this printer is on the same level as machines that cost six times as much.

Nvidia’s Jetson AGX Xavier module is designed to give robots better brains

Nvidia's pricey Jetson AGX Xavier might help drive the next generation of smart robots. Nvidia hopes that developers will use its new Xavier module to power AI-driven machines like delivery drones and robots used in manufacturing.
Emerging Tech

With this robotic garage, retrieving your car is like using a vending machine

Remembering where we parked our cars can be a real pain. But what if our cars came to find us, rather than the other way around? A new automated robot parking valet system aims to help.
Emerging Tech

An A.I. cracks the internet’s squiggly letter bot test in 0.5 seconds

How do you prove that you’re a human when communicating on the internet? The answer used to be by solving a CAPTCHA puzzle. But maybe not for too much longer. Here is the reason why.
Emerging Tech

Transplanted pig hearts show promise in baboon trials. Are humans next?

Researchers in Germany have successfully transplanted modified pig hearts into baboons. The results take us one step closer to ending organ transplant waiting lists for good. Here's why.
Smart Home

This A.I.-enabled tech brings cutting-edge automation to grocery stores

Takeoff Technologies is working to make grocery deliveries fast, accurate, and convenient using A.I.-enabled technology to augment robotic grocery orders that can be completed in minutes.
Emerging Tech

Postmates’ to roll out Minion-like autonomous delivery robots in 2019

Postmates is about to employ a cute little robot to work alongside its human delivery personnel. Called Serve, the wheel-based bot can carry items weighing up to 50 pounds and has a range of 30 miles.
Emerging Tech

The best 3D printers of 2018

On the hunt for a new 3D printer? We've got your back. Whether you're a beginner or a seasoned veteran, this list of the best 3D printers has what you're looking for.
Emerging Tech

The best drone photos from around the world

Most of today's drones come equipped with high-end cameras, which are quickly revolutionizing the world of aerial photography as we know it. Here are some of the best drone photos from around the world.
Emerging Tech

Are e-cigarettes safe? Here’s what the most recent science says

Ecigarettes are widely regarded and advertised as a healthier alternative to cigarettes for people who are trying to kick the smoking habit. How safe are these cigarette alternatives? We went deep into the recent scientific literature to…
Emerging Tech

Thrill-seekers will be able to pilot themselves in a giant drone as soon as 2019

Want to hitch a ride on a giant drone? The startup Lift Aircraft is gearing up to let paying customers fly its 18-rotor giant drones over assorted scenic landscapes across the U.S.
Emerging Tech

CRISPR gene therapy regulates hunger, staves off severe obesity in mice

Researchers from UC San Francisco have demonstrated how CRISPR gene editing can be used to prevent severe obesity in mice, without making a single edit to the mouse's genome. Here's how.
Emerging Tech

Capture app saves money by 3D scanning objects using iPhone’s TrueDepth camera

Capture is a new iPhone app created by the Y Combinator-backed startup Standard Cyborg. It allows anyone to perform 3D scans of objects and share them with buddies. Here's how it works.
Emerging Tech

Sick of walking everywhere? Here are the best electric skateboards you can buy

Thanks for Kickstarter and Indiegogo, electric skateboards are carving a bigger niche than you might think. Whether you're into speed, mileage, or something a bit more stylish, here are the best electric skateboards on the market.