Human Brain Can Control Robot, Even At Great Distances

What was once science fiction is becoming a reality faster than you might have thought thanks to the work of internationally-supported applied presence and applied cognitive neuroscience research.  Just ask Tirosh Shapira who recently, from a laboratory in Israel, commanded a humanoid robot in a French laboratory to walk and pick up objects simply by imagining that he himself was walking and picking up objects.


Robotic embodiment based on motor imaging: image via youtube.comRobotic embodiment based on motor imaging: image via

In this amazing experiment, researchers at Bar-llan University used an fMRI of Shapira's brain to control the robots movements at Béziers Technology Institute in France.  When Shapira imagined himself walking, his fMRI was converted to an algorithm established by the research team; other algorithms were created from Shapira's thoughts to distinguish between walking and moving other parts of his body in different ways.

A camera over the robot's head allowed Shapira to see the robot's environment so he could direct his thoughts specifically to the relationship of the 'avatar' to objects in it.  Shapira's thoughts were communicated to the bot by computer, so that when Shapira imagined himself walking, the bot walked.  When he imagined himself lifting an object to his left or right side, the robot would turn 30 degrees to the left or right and move its corresponding arm.

This experiment was one of several ongoing research projects of VERE (Virtual Embodiment and Robotic Re-Embodiment), a European effort, and AINST (National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology), largely funded by the Japanese government. The goal of both agencies is to create surrogates that work just like those in the movie Avatar to be used in rehabilitation and training of those that are physically restricted to a bed or wheelchair. 


Human brain controls robot's movements: illustration from brain controls robot's movements: illustration from


The above graphic from a study entitled Multitask Humanoid Control with a Brain-Computer Interface: user experiment with HRP-2, illustrates the events created in brain controlled experiments, such as the one conducted between the Bar-llan University student and the Béziers Technology Institute's robot.


sources: Design News, VERE, AINST, Multitask Humanoid Control with a Brain-Computer Interface: user experiment with HRP-2

Sep 28, 2012
by Anonymous

Amazing. Troubling, too.

I am already quite troubled by drone warfare, and do not welcome the possible "advances" such a tool augurs. Such an accomplishment requires a hundred year period of reflection before using.

Sep 28, 2012
by Anonymous

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Great post!! this is a totally important and creative post! in the meantime science has made our life too comfortable. besides, day by day becoming increase our skill for the modern science. hey, thanks a lot for your nice post! good job and carry on.

Oct 1, 2012
by Anonymous


Wow this is a great invention and it feels so good that technology is growing so fast...
Really Great article and post dear.. Enjoyed it
Thanks for sharing.