Partially Paralyzed Man Used Robotic Arms to To Feed Himself

A man who has been unable to move his fingers for the last 30 years feeds himself a cake using robotic arms.

A man who has been unable to move his fingers for the last 30 years feeds himself a cake using robotic arms.

robotic arm eats cake
robotic arm eats cake 1

The man, after being paralyzed for 30 years is now once again able to feed himself with the help of robotic arms and his own mind. These prosthetic arms were connected neurologically to his brain, the activity is done through the brain-computer interface. This recent advance in neuroscience, robotics, and software have allowed scientists to build a robotic system that can respond to the muscle movement signals of an amputee.

Thanks to this system, humans and robots work together to make certain tasks as easy as drinking water for a semi-disabled person.

The Experiment

The man, who has limited upper-body mobility and is unable to use his fingers, was able to move his fists in response to prompts. Frontiers Media reported that this was an experiment carried out by researchers in which they tested the capabilities of two robotic arms attached to a partially disabled person. A fork was put in one arm, and a knife in the other of a man who sits in front of a table, with a piece of cake on a plate.

robotic arm eats cake 2

To move the robotic arms, a computerized voice announces each action: “moving fork to food” and “retracting knife.” Partially paralyzed, the man makes subtle motions with his right and left fists at certain prompts, such as “select cut location”, so that the machine slices off a bite-sized piece. Now: “moving food to mouth” and another subtle gesture to align the fork with his mouth. The partially disabled person makes delicate movements with his hand and the other robotic arm moves the cake to his mouth.

robotic arm eats cake 3

This successful experiment, celebrated with cheers and applause, allowed a man who was unable to move his fingers from the last 30 years to feed himself a cake, by relying on his and two robotic arms without the need of assistance from anyone.

Comments by Researchers

Dr Francesco Tenore, one of the authors of the report in Frontier Media, added in a statement; “This shared control approach is intended to leverage the intrinsic capabilities of the brain machine interface and the robotic system, creating a ‘best of both worlds’ environment where the user can personalize the behavior of a smart prosthesis, although our results are preliminary, we are excited about giving users with limited capability a true sense of control over increasingly intelligent assistive machines”.

Diamond in the rough

This study has been 15 years in the making, and finally after many trials and ordeals, it has finally been made possible for humans to command machines to aid themselves, through a neurologically connected system. However, the technology is still being refined and it would be a while before it is implemented worldwide.

Researchers say that it is possible to further improve the accuracy and timings of the movements that the arms make, through more R & D.

by Talha Shaikhani