Paralyzed Woman Controls Flight Simulator With Her Brain

Paralyzed Woman Controls Flight Simulator With Her Brain

Jan Scheuermann, a 55-year-old quadripalegic, was able to control an F-35 flight simulator using a pair of electrodes implanted in her brain.

One of the most persistent visions of humanity's future is the melding of man and machine. Whether we're talking comic books, movies, television or literature, there's no lack for people imagining the day when we'll be able to swap out our puny flesh arms for bad ass robot ones or start our cars with a mere thought. Most would probably laugh at the idea as little more than wishful thinking or, at best, science fiction. Recent reports however, would indicate that we're coming closer and closer to a time when such technologies are science fact.

More specifically, in a series of tests recently conducted by the Pentagon robotics program, a paralyzed woman was able to connect her brain to an F-35 flight simulator and control it with her thoughts. The woman, 55-year-old Jan Scheuermann, connected to the simulator using a pair of electrodes implanted directly into her brain. After connecting she was able to pilot the simulator "directly [with] her neural signaling."

Speaking about the experiment, officials at DARPA expressed understandable excitement over what its success could mean for individuals with physical disabilities and humanity in general. "In doing this work, we've also opened this door," said DARPA director Arati Prabhaker. "We can now see a future where we can free the brain from the limitations of the human body." DARPA biological technologies director Geoffrey Ling reiterated this sentiment, saying that the organization has "stepped over a great threshold into what's possible." In other words, we're one step closer to building Jaegers.

Readers may recognize Scheuermann from similar tests conducted in 2012 where her electrode implants were used to connect her to a robotic arm that she was then able to similarly control with neural signals. A quadriplegic, she lost the use of her arms and legs years ago as a result of a rare genetic disease. She described her work with the Pentagon as "an honor."

Source: Defense Tech

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That's fascinating.

Still, a 'pair of electrodes?' Surely it's more complex than that.

I know we have (not especially reliable or precise) non-invasive tech that can sort of do this, but I'd really like to see this happen at some point... XD

Makes sense that it starts with people that are paralysed though.

Good for her, really, I can't imagine being paralyzed, it would drive me mad. This is quite the impressive accomplishment and I hope for it to contribute to our glorious XCOM future where we fight off aliens in giant MEC Suits.

CrystalShadow:
That's fascinating.
Still, a 'pair of electrodes?' Surely it's more complex than that.

Not really, reading electrical impulses from the brain is pretty easy. The hard part, is designing an interface to translate those signals in to commands the computer can recognise as being what a person would normally do with their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

008Zulu:

CrystalShadow:
That's fascinating.
Still, a 'pair of electrodes?' Surely it's more complex than that.

Not really, reading electrical impulses from the brain is pretty easy. The hard part, is designing an interface to translate those signals in to commands the computer can recognise as being what a person would normally do with their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Yes, but surely you don't get much detail, or resolution out of just two electrodes... What are they measuring? How is that going to be enough to control anything vaguely complex?

I mean, the human body has something like 50 degrees of freedom, and I'm fairly sure that isn't controlled by just 2 neural signals... That would be quite surprising.

CrystalShadow:

008Zulu:

CrystalShadow:
That's fascinating.
Still, a 'pair of electrodes?' Surely it's more complex than that.

Not really, reading electrical impulses from the brain is pretty easy. The hard part, is designing an interface to translate those signals in to commands the computer can recognise as being what a person would normally do with their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Yes, but surely you don't get much detail, or resolution out of just two electrodes... What are they measuring? How is that going to be enough to control anything vaguely complex?

I mean, the human body has something like 50 degrees of freedom, and I'm fairly sure that isn't controlled by just 2 neural signals... That would be quite surprising.

I work in this lab, which I wish the article would have mentioned, at the University of Pittsburgh. It is in fact two electrode *arrays*, letting us record from about 192 neurons. From those we can record and analyze spiking information, which through a fairly complicated decoding scheme can be translated into enough control to do this, as well as control a robotic arm (which is actually the point of the project; the flight simulator was an amusing side-project that DARPA likes highlighting.

http://www.hrnel.pitt.edu/

Dantereborn:

CrystalShadow:

008Zulu:

Not really, reading electrical impulses from the brain is pretty easy. The hard part, is designing an interface to translate those signals in to commands the computer can recognise as being what a person would normally do with their arms, hands, legs, and feet.

Yes, but surely you don't get much detail, or resolution out of just two electrodes... What are they measuring? How is that going to be enough to control anything vaguely complex?

I mean, the human body has something like 50 degrees of freedom, and I'm fairly sure that isn't controlled by just 2 neural signals... That would be quite surprising.

I work in this lab, which I wish the article would have mentioned, at the University of Pittsburgh. It is in fact two electrode *arrays*, letting us record from about 192 neurons. From those we can record and analyze spiking information, which through a fairly complicated decoding scheme can be translated into enough control to do this, as well as control a robotic arm (which is actually the point of the project; the flight simulator was an amusing side-project that DARPA likes highlighting.

http://www.hrnel.pitt.edu/

That makes much more sense. Also, welcome to the escapist. XD
Well, not really, but you know what I mean.

Unfortunately, I find that the escapist has always been a little reckless with how it reports things, often misses out details, or copies things without the tiniest bit of fact checking...
You get used to it, but it can be frustrating at times when something is genuinely interesting.

My only real point of reference for this is the tiny bit of research I did to try and understand what the... Emotiv epoch is doing, and how it's deducing the various things it can apparently measure.

That can be used without surgery, but getting useful data from what is basically 14 electrode EEG system appears to be incredibly complex, and not especially reliable.

Well, someone has to do this research, right? I hope it's going well.
Good luck to you and everyone else involved.

It's funny how scientific progress works. I would've pegged giving her back the use of her limbs as a simpler scientific advancement then giving her the use of a multimillion dollar flying death machine, but here we are.

Paradoxrifts:
It's funny how scientific progress works. I would've pegged giving her back the use of her limbs as a simpler scientific advancement then giving her the use of a multimillion dollar flying death machine, but here we are.

Human limbs are hard to build, full of microscopic pathways and organics and a billion things that can go wrong.

Multimillion dollar flying death machines are built exclusively by humans and only have thousands of things that can go wrong. :P

lacktheknack:

Paradoxrifts:
It's funny how scientific progress works. I would've pegged giving her back the use of her limbs as a simpler scientific advancement then giving her the use of a multimillion dollar flying death machine, but here we are.

Human limbs are hard to build, full of microscopic pathways and organics and a billion things that can go wrong.

Multimillion dollar flying death machines are built exclusively by humans and only have thousands of things that can go wrong. :P

All true. But it's still weird. :D

I was really hoping there would be a video of her laying waste to enemy fighter planes.

I gotta remember, flight simulator not combat simulator.

Cecilo:
Good for her, really, I can't imagine being paralyzed, it would drive me mad. This is quite the impressive accomplishment and I hope for it to contribute to our glorious XCOM future where we fight off aliens in giant MEC Suits.

Pretty much all of this. I think it would drive me mad too but this is just awesome! It's stuff like this that makes me enjoy science all over again. :D

Kinda surprised they would start her off with the controls for a flight simulator but if the reason was to show off she could handle complex machines well, they did it.

image

Sometimes it's just funny how books and sci-fi become science fact.

CrystalShadow:
Yes, but surely you don't get much detail, or resolution out of just two electrodes... What are they measuring? How is that going to be enough to control anything vaguely complex?

I mean, the human body has something like 50 degrees of freedom, and I'm fairly sure that isn't controlled by just 2 neural signals... That would be quite surprising.

They read the impulses generated in the area of the brain responsible for controlling your arms and legs. Two electrodes doesn't imply they are reading only 2 neurons.

008Zulu:

CrystalShadow:
Yes, but surely you don't get much detail, or resolution out of just two electrodes... What are they measuring? How is that going to be enough to control anything vaguely complex?

I mean, the human body has something like 50 degrees of freedom, and I'm fairly sure that isn't controlled by just 2 neural signals... That would be quite surprising.

They read the impulses generated in the area of the brain responsible for controlling your arms and legs. Two electrodes doesn't imply they are reading only 2 neurons.

Thank you, but if you'd been paying attention you'd realise someone working on the project answered it. It consists of 2 arrays of 192 electrodes each. I really wish the escapist would be more careful with how it states things...

Can I get a, "Fuck yeah!" people?! FUCK YEAH!

So it won't be long until we can get YF-21 (Macross Plus) in the sky...provided we can make Variable Fighters first...

Come on, I can't be the only one thinking of this.

 

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