Researchers from the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (SJTU) have achieved allograft control through a ‘brain-to-brain interface’. The team have developed a technique which allowed them to control a living cockroach with their minds. The new breakthrough in cybernetics won the second prize in 2015 IEEE RAS students’ video contest and will be exhibited at ICRA2015.
The team state that their research established a functional brain-to-brain interface between human and cockroach, sending a signal from a human mind to the brain of cockroach to remotely control the cockroach’s action. The team explain that the controller, in this case a human-being, wears a portable an electroencephalography (EEG) headset which reads their brain waves wirelessly. The headset decodes the directional intention of the wearer from eye movements, for example, and sends this to the electronic ‘backpack’ receiver on the back of the roach, so that it can be steered in the right direction.
The human’s directional intention is received by a microelectrode implanted into the antennae nerve of the cockroach, which in turn produces a controllable living cyborg. It does this by sending the received information to backpacks wired to the insect’s cerci, sensory organs cockroaches usually use to feel if their abdomens are brushing against something. By electrically stimulating the cerci, the team state that the cockroaches were prompted to move in a certain direction.
The current study saw a living cockroach prompted by a human controller to walk in S-shaped path and Z-shaped path via mind control. The team note that this research extended traditional brain-computer interface technology and succeeded in brain-to-brain communication. They add that in the future, this technology could also be used for complex terrain reconnaissance, risk-elimination and also lay a solid foundation for cybernetics.
The researchers now plan to develop this technology further to controlling several cockroaches by multiple humans at the same time.