The team headed by Gaurav Sharma, an Indian-origin scientist, is helping US soldiers control unmanned aerial vehicles and bomb disposal robot with their thoughts. Sharma and the team have bagged a whopping $20 million contract from an agency of the defence department to develop such a system!
According to the Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), a 40-year-old Sharma, who is a senior research scientist at BattelleSharma, is among six other teams to win grants to develop brain-machine interfaces. Headquartered in Ohio, Battelle is a private nonprofit applied science and technology development company.
Sharma and his team have been tasked to develop an advanced system called 'BrainSTORMS' (Brain System to Transmit Or Receive Magnetoelectric Signals). The system could allow a soldier to put on a helmet and use his mind to control multiple unmanned aerial vehicles or even a bomb disposal robot.
It involves the development of a novel nano-transducer that could be temporarily injected into the body directed to a specific area of the brain to help complete a task through communication with a helmet-based transceiver. The nano-transducer will then be magnetically guided out of the brain and into the bloodstream to be processed out of the body.
"This is one of the most exciting and challenging projects I have worked on," said Sharma.
"With BrainSTORMS, we will again be pushing the limits engineering and physics. If successful, this technology would not only provide a safe and efficient way to facilitate human-machine interactions but also has the potential to revolutionise the study of the nervous system," Sharma said.
Battelle received the first round of funding of $2 million to demonstrate the core concept of the technology. If they succeed, Battelle will receive additional funding for the second and third phases.
Sharma was instrumental in the development of a neuroprosthetic technology named NeuroLife which helped a paralyzed patient regain control of his hand. At Battelle, Sharma is applying advanced engineering to overcome problems in the human body and brain.
Battelle has for years successfully demonstrated brain-computer interface (BCI) projects.
(With agency inputs)