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From Brain Science to Intelligent Machines

The student will be introduced to the concept of the brain-computer interface (BCI) and the associated hardware and software requirements for this exciting new technology. Within the Intelligent Systems Research Centre (ISRC) at the University of Ulster a team are currently focused on the development of advanced neural signal processing algorithms, software and hardware to create sophisticated brain-computer interface (BCI) products which translate brainwave activity into useful communication and control signals. This project will involve using BCI to control a mobile robot.

The objective of the proposed project is to assess the robot hardware and software interface and assess the output control signal from the BCI to determine the most appropriate interface methodology between the BCI and the robot. The aim of the project will be to create a hardware and software specification and implementation for brainwave controlled robotics.

Brief methodology

The BCI lab within the ISRC has a state-of-the-art facility which houses a number of hardware devices for electroencephalogram (EEG) i.e., brainwave, recordings. The student will get the opportunity to use the BCI system and to gain an appreciation for the complexity of the problem but also to experience the potential to control a computer/robot using the mind alone.

The student will be introduced to the hardware and software of the BCI and the recording devices which transfer the brainwaves wirelessly from a person’s brain to the computer. The student will assess the various hardware devices and corresponding software and will develop sophisticated software tools that will enable a stable and robust interface between the user’s brain and a robot. The challenge in this project is to develop robot control solutions which are intelligent enough to react correctly to commands and instructions provided via information contained in brainwaves which can be very unstable, inaccurate, vary significantly from day to day and only provide limited information. To deal with this type of uncertainty in the brainwaves, which are essentially the control signals, the robot, the interface between the user and the robot and the signal processing for extracting information from brainwaves must be integrated in an intelligent system that can adapt, interact and provide fluent as well as fail-safe brain-robot control.

Anticipated Outcomes

The project is well defined and has clearly structured program of work.. This is a project which is at the cutting edge of technological development and it is expected that the student will gain valuable experience in engineering, computing, and robotics. The student will become experienced in the exciting research fields of brain-computer interface and robotics. The student will develop an intelligent brain-to-robot interface and demonstrate how a robot can be controlled using brainwaves alone.