Thought controlled wheelchair


Handicapped patients that have lost the ability to use their limbs and torso and therefore are unable to use a conventional joystick currently have limited ways of controlling a wheelchair.

Realising that methods such as blowing air into a sensor or using a chin stick can be exhausting, we came up with the idea of building a brain-controlled electric wheelchair: the patient thinks about where they want the wheelchair to go, and it then heads in that direction.

The brain-controlled wheelchair system comprises of four main units: a brain signals detector; a laptop; an electric wheelchair; and an interface unit. The brain signals detector consists of electrodes that are placed on the patient’s scalp and connected to signal processing circuits. In this project, we have used an Emotiv EEG Neuroheadset with multiple electrodes.

Data acquired by the brain signals detector is filtered, amplified, and converted to digital form. The digital data is processed by laptop using special software. After processing the data, specific features are extracted and classified to determine the desired direction of motion.

The command related to the desired direction of motion is then sent to the interface through a USB- serial RS232 port. The interface, equipped with an Arduino microcontroller, receives the command from the laptop, interprets it and sends the appropriate signal to the wheelchair motor controller that in turn provides the right amount of power from the battery to each motor to produce the desired motion.

Another important feature of this system is an Android App developed for the automatic transmission of messages to the mobile phone of an assistant or relative to alert them about some difficulties faced by the user such as low battery life or a significant displacement of the brain signals detector.

The system has been implemented successfully and has been tested under various operating conditions. The electric wheelchair used in this project was provided by the Al Thiqah Club for Handicapped in Sharjah, UAE. However, the system can also be implemented with other types of electric wheelchairs. We are currently enhancing the capabilities of this system by using various types of motion and proximity sensors to provide feedback to the wheelchair system regarding its surroundings and thus the ability to avoid obstacles in the direction of motion.

The objective of our project is to provide a reliable and functional system that would take humanity one step further in aiding less fortunate handicapped patients by offering them a better and more independent life.

Children's National Team


Each year, over 232 million surgical procedures are performed around the world. Unfortunately, a significant number of patients experience complications, with reported complication rates as high as 30%. Furthermore, recent advances such as laparoscopic and robot-assisted surgery (RAS) have not changed complication rates.



A critical contributor to this unmet challenge is the human factor. Surgeon experience, training, clinical volume, dexterity, vision and cognition all contribute to the human error. Although laparoscopic and RAS are increasingly adopted because of their less invasive approach, these minimally invasive technologies completely rely on individual surgeon capacity and capability, create additional disparity in accessibility to the best practices and variation in outcomes.

We propose to address this unmet challenge by changing the current master-slave paradigm in laparoscopic and RAS, where the surgeon directly performs every aspect of surgery, to a semi-autonomous or autonomous robot-assisted surgery. This shift creates value via:

  • Enhanced safety
  • Access to the best techniques anywhere in the world;
  • Improved clinical outcomes
  • Significant economic benefits.

Surgery is late to the era of automation, which has clearly improved safety, quality and outcomes in the automobile, aviation and manufacturing industries. Beyond an initial demonstration of proof-of-feasibility, the deliverables in this proposal promise a new era where the best and safest techniques and technology are available to everyone in the world. We will begin with a simple surgical procedure and progress to the most complex ones. The goal is not to replace surgeons but to enhance their human capacity and capability through this new paradigm of collaborative autonomy between humans (initially surgeons but potentially untrained humans) and robots.

We have recently successfully developed and tested a robotic system for autonomous intestinal anastomosis in a preclinical porcine model. We selected this challenge because over a million such suturing and anastomosis tasks involving intestine and urologic tissues are performed in the U.S. alone each year during the third, reconstructive phase of surgery; along with the second phase of surgery, removing the pathology of interest, it is the critical element for a successful outcome; and the complication rates for anastomosis continue to be significant despite recent advances in surgical technologies. Surprisingly, our supervised autonomous surgery was not only feasible but had better outcomes than current clinical standards performed by expert surgeons.