Intel and Accenture are supporting an Intel Neuromorphic Research Community (INRC) project. This project is using funding and technology support from Accenture, Intel, and Applied Brain Research (ABR) to develop a wheelchair-mounted robotic arm to assist patients with spinal injuries in performing daily tasks.
Mike Davies, director of Intel’s Neuromorphic Computing Lab said, “Neuromorphic computing is a natural fit for assistive technologies, given its low power requirements and ability to learn and adapt to new situations in real time. Through Intel and Accenture’s work with the Open University of Israel and ALYN Hospital, we hope to unlock new capabilities for mobility impaired children and improve the patients’ quality of life.” Studies suggest that wheelchair-mounted robotic arms increase the sense of independence for users. However, the high cost of these devices making these devices virtually inaccessible to most people. Intel’s neuromorphic research chip, Loihi, can reduce the cost of creating and operating such devices. With Loihi’s real-time learning researchers can implement adaptive control to enhance arm’s functionality with using affordable parts. Also, Loihi is up to 1,000 times more energy efficient than general-purpose processors making it more ideal for use in daily life.
Edy Liongosari, Technology Innovation growth and strategy lead and chief research scientist at Accenture, said, “This research project is a powerful demonstration of the impact that neuromorphic computing can have on the development of affordable intelligent assistive devices. Making these devices accessible, particularly to such young patients, can have a profound impact on their independence, improving the way they live. We are looking forward to teaming closely with the Open University of Israel researchers, ALYN and Intel, contributing our technical and industry experience to advance this technology for those who need it the most”.
After success of this project the research team plans to explore how to produce this assistive robotic arm for patients. They also plan to investigate applications of adaptive control technology in flexible manufacturing and industrial automation.
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