Rat propulsion via brain-machine interface

Our little red-eyed friend can drive this vehicle around with his mind. WITH HIS MIND, MAN!

This is the product of research into adaptive technologies. The process is pretty invasive, implanting neural electrodes in the motor cortex of the brain. The hope is that some day this will be a safe and reliable prospect for returning mobility to paralysis victims.

We found it interesting that the vehicle was trained to react to the rats’ movements. They were allowed to move around a test space under their own power while brain signals were monitored by the electrodes. Video tracking was used to correlate their movements with those signals, and that data is used to command the motors for what the Japanese researchers are calling RatCar.

We can see the possibilities opening up for a mechanized cockroach v. RatCar free-for-all. Something of a battlebots with a live tilt. But we kid, this is actually quite creepy.

[via Neatorama and PopSci]

Exoskeleton rental now available

The HAL two-leg exoskeleton is now available for rent in Tokyo for $2300 per month. We saw the HAL in our power suit roundup from last year. There is footage of this lower-extremity suit demonstrated by three people. The video is a bit creepy because the they are apparently just out for a stroll in the city.

We really do want to see this succeed. Every time another advancement in exoskeletons comes around we glimpse the future of mobility and freedom for victims of paralysis. The machine is controlled via an interface that picks up electrical impulses on the surface of the skin. The built in battery provides power for up to five hours of operation before recharging is necessary.

[Thanks David]