Humans can now use mind control to direct swarms of robots

There have been some amazing breakthroughs that enable humans to control a single machine with their thoughts. The next step is figuring out how to operate an entire fleet of robots with mind control.

A team of researchers at Arizona State University's (ASU) Human-Oriented Robotics and Control Lab have developed a system for managing swarms of robots with brain power.

ASU's new system can be used to direct a group of small, inexpensive robots to complete a task. If one robot breaks down, it's not a big loss, and the rest can continue with their mission. ASU researcher Panagiotis Artemiadis tells ZDNet that swarms of robots can be used for "tasks that are dirty, dull, or dangerous".

In the future, humans can use their thoughts to manage a team of robots that will work together to accomplish a goal. Artemiadis says:

Applications of this research can be found in a plethora of tasks that include delivery of medical help to remote areas, search and rescue to inaccessible environments and disaster areas or exploration of unknown and remote environments, ranging from underwater to space. Since most of the applications require the human in the loop, our work focuses on the optimization of the human control interface in order to increase the operation efficiency and accuracy.
In the prototype system, a user wears a skull cap with 128 electrodes wired to a computer. The cap records electrical brain activity, which is then translated by advanced-learning algorithms into commands that are wirelessly sent to the robots. The user watches the robots and mentally pictures them doing different tasks, such as spreading out or moving in a certain direction. Conventional joysticks only control one robot at a time, but our minds can control an entire flock...


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