I stood on the roof this past Wednesday and watched as the fireworks (rockets) went glare celebrating our precious freedom that we take for granted. To me, July Fourth is more than summer BBQs and fireworks, it is a day to honor and appreciate the people that have defended our liberty over the past 236 years. We have all seen the television commercials for The Wounded Warrior Project, a worthy cause that deserves our support, but I would like to share with you how robotics is helping our returning veterans cope with their lost limbs.
At the University of Granada researchers have developed a major breakthrough in using microcircuitry in the brain or “artificial cerebellum” to control the locomotive actions of an attached robotic arm. The cerebellum traditionally controls and coordinates the body’s movement. Robot designers have been challenged historically with mimicking the human body’s precise movements while balancing dangerous and possibly lethal malfunctions of strength and speed. To counter this, the University of Granada team has “implemented a new cerebellar spiking model that adapts to corrections and stores their sensorial effects; in addition, it records motor commands to predict the action or movement to be performed by the robotic arm.”
In conjunction with the robotic arm featured in the above video, the Granada model offers the most promise for amputees to become real bionic men and women. According to published reports this “cerebellar model” potentially enables patients to have extraordinary mobility with their robotic appendages. It is the synergy between biophysics and robotics that enables “biologically-inspired architectures” to improve mankind and help our most deserving heroes.