Monkeys learn to control robotic arms today, will take over world tomorrow


Brain-machine interface technology just went bananas. Researchers successfully trained two macaque monkey test subjects, equipped with small sensor grids the size of a freckle in their noggins, to manipulate robotic limbs. The monkeys use the arms to reach for food and can even detect how big or sticky or soft a morsel is and adjust the feelers accordingly.

Besides leading to robotic monkey soldiers, the team from the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University hope that the research will bring us closer to fully-functioning machine prosthetics for those who are paralyzed or are missing limbs. Already the monkeys have shown great promise, first learning to use the arms with a joystick, and then only needing several days to master the system using their cerebral implants.

Quick disclaimer for you animal-loving types: both simians still have their arms. The robotic ones are external and, besides having sensors placed in their skulls, the monkeys enjoy an easy life of lounging around and feeding themselves marshmallows and bananas.

Via The New York Times (Thanks, Patrick!)