Thought-propelled wheelchair developed in Italy

March 6, 2009
Professor Matteo Matteucci (R) and Ph.d student Bernardo Dal Seno (C), wearing a skullcap mounted with electrodes and wired to a computer as he sits on a special wheel chair at the Politecnico di Milan department in Milan. Italian researchers have developed a wheelchair that obeys mental signals sent to a computer, they said Friday.

Italian researchers have developed a wheelchair that obeys mental signals sent to a computer, they said Friday.

The researchers at Milan's Polytechnical Institute artificial intelligence and robotics laboratory took three years to develop the system, Professor Matteo Matteucci told AFP.

The user is connected to a computer with electrodes on his or her scalp, and sends a signal by concentrating for a few seconds on the name of the desired destination -- kitchen, bedroom, bathroom -- displayed on a screen.

The computer then guides the wheelchair to the selected room using a preset programme.

"We don't read minds, but the brain signal that is sent," Matteucci said.

The chair is equipped with two laser beams that can detect obstacles.

The Milan lab is already in contact with companies that could produce a commercial prototype aimed at quadriplegics, Matteucci said, adding that it could take between five and 10 years.

Such a wheelchair would cost only 10 percent more than a classic motorised wheelchair, according to the institute.

Research to develop the so-called Brain Computer Interface began in the early 1980s around the world.

Matteucci said a handful of other researchers were working on similar projects to his, including the Federal Polytechnic School in Lausanne, Switzerland.

"Eventually, a research consortium should be set up that will use all these projects as a basis for finding the best approach," he said.

"We've now started work on getting the chair to operate outdoors using a GPS," Matteucci added.

(c) 2009 AFP

Explore further: Toyota robot can pick up after people, help the sick

Related Stories

Exoskeleton keeps up with flow on the streets of New York

July 16, 2015

ReWalk Robotics, is a medical device company which has created ReWalk, an exoskeleton. The company team is focused on exoskeletons that can allow wheelchair-bound people to stand up and walk—not just in the rehab rooms ...

Demo of mind-controlled exoskeleton planned for World Cup

May 10, 2014

The World Cup opening ceremony next month in Brazil in and of itself will be enough to make June 12 a standout for athletes and their fans but yet another eye-opener may make the Sao Paulo stadium opener long remembered globally. ...

Team develops faster, higher quality 3-D camera

April 24, 2015

When Microsoft released the Kinect for Xbox in November 2010, it transformed the video game industry. The most inexpensive 3-D camera to date, the Kinect bypassed the need for joysticks and controllers by sensing the user's ...

Recommended for you

Microsoft describes hard-to-mimic authentication gesture

August 1, 2015

Photos. Messages. Bank account codes. And so much more—sit on a person's mobile device, and the question is, how to secure them without having to depend on lengthy password codes of letters and numbers. Vendors promoting ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.