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Research and Development in Virtual Engineering

Brain-Machine Interfaces and Brain-Controlled Grasping (BMI and BRACOG)

Research is being done worldwide on controlling robots by thought alone in order to enable people with severe physical disabilities to interact with their environments. Many of the fifteen million 15 people who suffers strokes every year (WHO, 2004) are completely paralyzed because the brain no longer processes stimuli properly. Degenerative illnesses of the somatic nervous system deprive others of their ability to communicate with their environment after a relatively brief period.

Together with the Fraunhofer IFF and Carl von Ossietzky University Oldenburg, the Clinic for Neurology at Otto von Guericke University Magdeburg developed new approaches to controlling a robotic arm’s complex movements by thoughts alone.

Multi-class classifiers and multi-dimensional independent variable are being employed to analyze natural human movement in conjunction with brain waves and methods are being developed, which enable the brain, despite its many concurrent processes, to control a robot stably and without errors even in everyday routines.

The design of the BRACOG system.

Work is being done in an ongoing research project supported by the EU on a system that enables fully paralyzed individuals to use a smart robot to grasp and firmly hold objects in their everyday environments. Only brain activity measured by EEG, MEG or MRI is being used to control the manipulators. Individuals will focus their attention and imagine movements to communicate their desires and initiate the process of grasping. The research findings will enter into smart prosthetics and assistive systems and significantly improve the quality of life for individuals with severe disabilities.

Robot control by thought (BRACOG research project).