Wednesday, February 08, 2006

IST-FET launches Integrated Project:’Neurobotics’

’The Fusion of Neuroscience and Robotics for Augmenting Human Capabilities’

FET, the Unit dealing with Future and Emerging Technologies and acting as the pathfinder of IST by exploring new science and technology frontiers, has launched a new research initiative- Beyond Robotics. Neurobotics is one out of three so-called Integrated Projects.

The ultimate objective of the NEUROBOTICS project is to introduce a discontinuity in the robot design, thus going literally "Beyond Robotics". This discontinuity will be pursued by a strategic alliance between Neuroscience and Robotics, which will go well beyond present, mostly fragmented, collaborations, and lead to overcome state-of-the-art of robotics worldwide.

More particularly Neurobotics aims at:
1) systematically exploring the area of Hybrid Bionic Systems (HBSs)
2) deeply investigating the theme of human augmentation
3) developing new integrated robotic artefacts, as much biomorphic as required to be effectively interfaced with the human body and brain

Three robotic platforms featuring different levels of hybridness (i.e. mechanical coupling with the human body) and of connectivity (to the human nervous system) will be developed to be used in experiments on human augmentation: biomimetic scalable artefacts to be remotely controlled by human operator; intelligent wearable artefacts loosely physically coupled with the human body; arm-hand sub-systems tightly physically coupled with the human body.

The expected outcome of Neurobotics is to provide general answers on how the field of human augmentation can be approached with methods, tools, and aims that have a solid scientific foundation, keeping into account the ethical and societal perspective. The heritage of Neurobotics will be the kernel of a new community of European researchers, with strong links to non-European top scientists (e.g. in US and Japan), able to dominate the scientific, technical, industrial, societal and ethical aspects of this novel discipline and to exploit it to the benefit of the EU citizens.

Neurobotics is co-ordinated by the Scuola Superiore Sant’Anna of Pisa, Italy. Participants that are coming from a wide variety of interests include: CNRS, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Karolinska Institutet, Umea Universitet, Kungliska Tekniska Hoegskolan, Fraunhofer Gesellschaft, University Pierre et Marie Curie, Universita di Genova, DLR, Universita di Parma, National Technical University of Athens, Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona, Universita Campus Biomedico di Roma, Università di Ferrara, Pont-Tech s.c.r.l.

Dissemination plans: the activities and the results of Neurobotics will be widely disseminated to different scientific communities and to the general public worldwide. Workshops and seminars on the different scientific and technological aspects of Neurobotics will be organised soon, as well as Doctoral Summer and Winter Schools. Multidisciplinary workshops on the ethical and societal implications of Neurobotics are also planned.

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