Robots aren’t supposed to make mistakes. But if they do, a team from MIT’s Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL) and Boston University have developed a way to correct the robot’s actions by using a person’s electroencephalography (EEG) brain signals.
The human needs to wear an EEG cap that measures their brain signals. The system looks for brain signals called “error-related potentials” (ErrPs) that are generated when the brain notices a mistake has been made. As the robot indicates which choice it plans to make, the system uses ErrPs to determine if the human agrees with the decision.
The system works in real-time, classifying brain waves in 10-30 milliseconds. The system, which is being tested on Rethink Robotics’ Baxter, even make the robot feel embarrassed when it makes a mistake. The idea is to make robots a more natural extension of humans.
“Imagine being able to instantaneously tell a robot to do a certain action, without needing to type a command, push a button or even say a word,” says CSAIL director Daniela Rus, who won the 2017 Engelberger Robotics Awards for Education. “A streamlined approach like that would improve our abilities to supervise factory robots, driverless cars and other technologies we haven’t even invented yet.”