Thought-propelled wheelchair developed in Italy

Mar 06, 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: Five ways unmanned drones could affect the American food supply

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

China air quality dire but improving: Greenpeace

1 hour ago

The skies of China's notoriously smog-filled cities saw a marginal amelioration last year, according to figures released by Greenpeace Thursday, but pollution remained far above national and international ...

Recommended for you

Navy wants to increase use of sonar-emitting buoys

13 hours ago

The U.S. Navy is seeking permits to expand sonar and other training exercises off the Pacific Coast, a proposal raising concerns from animal advocates who say that more sonar-emitting buoys would harm whales ...

Invention slows water evaporation, generates energy

Jan 23, 2015

A new technology invented at the University of Arizona offers a positive environmental impact by slowing the evaporation of water from bodies of water such as mining tailings ponds and reservoirs, while simultaneously ...

User comments : 0

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.