Chinese scientists build a robot that can read minds

The mind-reading robot works with a volunteer in a product assembly experiment. Photo: Dong Yuanfa

Researchers in China say they have developed an industrial robot that can read the mind of a human coworker with 96% accuracy.

When testing the device on factory workers, researchers from China Three Gorges University's Smart Manufacturing Innovation Technology Center apparently found that volunteers did not need to issue verbal commands or perform gestures when they needed to grasp a tool or component.

To overcome this limitation, explained project lead scientist Dong Yuanfa, his team's robot underwent "hundreds of hours of training" by eight volunteers. Workers on the assembly line were equipped with the machine, which combines a non-invasive brain wave detector and arm sensors.

According to the web portal https://www.scmp.com/, the robot not only monitored the brain waves of the worker, but also collected electrical signals from the muscles, since it worked perfectly to assemble a complex product, according to its developers at the China Three Gorges University Smart Manufacturing Innovation Technology Center.

The co-worker didn't need to say or do anything when he needed a tool or component, as the robot would recognize the intention almost instantly, picking up the object and placing it on the workstation, according to the developers.

While the helmet apparently understood the intentions of the volunteers with about 70% accuracy, the signal from the brain was weak. According to the SCMP, workers had to "Concentrate a lot" if the robot was going to receive a "Clear message." But most became too distracted by other thoughts after performing repetitive factory tasks over time, the team said.

Although the electrical signals from the muscles picked up by the sensors in the arm were said to be "More stable", they also lost strength as workers grew tired. But the developers claimed that a combination of brain and muscle signals can help the robot predict the next move with "unprecedented precision," the SCMP reported.

 

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