A Battelle-led research team has begun developing a brain-computer interface based on neurotechnological concepts as part of a four-year, $20M contract with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Battelle said Monday the group received $2M to produce the first phase of the Next-Generation Non-Surgical Neurotechnology (N3) project, and will secure additional funding for the DARPA program's second and third increments if the first phase is successful. If the goals of the project are met, military crew in safe areas will be able to utilize special helmets to use brain signals to control vehicles or robots in danger zones.
The company intends to apply its artificial intelligence, engineering, integration, electrophysiology experience to develop the Brain System to Transmit Or Receive Magnetoelectric Signals platform, which will implement nanotransducers temporarily injected into the body to allow user communication via a helmet-based transceiver.
DARPA's goals for the N3 program include deploying a bi-directional system with the capacity for brain-machine functionality to be used by able-bodied personnel. The Air Force Research Laboratory also plans to demonstrate the minimally invasive interface through human subjects.
“If successful, this technology would not only provide a safe and efficient way to facilitate human machine interactions but also has the potential to revolutionize the study of the nervous system,“ said Gaurav Sharma, senior research scientist for Battelle.
Battelle will also work with representatives from the Universities of Miami and Pittsburgh on this project.