Maybe that title is a bit misleading. It's a robot that can be controlled using the mind. Not a swiss robot that can control minds. At least not yet.
For this experiment, the aim was to help paralyzed patients interact with the world. A patient in Sion in the south of Sweden was able to control a robot's actions over a 100 km away at Switzerland's Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne.
By just thinking about lifting his arm, the robot reacted by lifting its.
While there isn't much practical about this particular scenario, or special due to the range, it is an interesting premise when you tease it out to its natural conclusion. If an avatar were constructed and enough feedback delivered through cameras, sensors and other haptic feedback, it's possible to give back (simulated) mobility to a bed-ridden patient. For instance, in this experiment the patient was Tetraplegic
. If just a few features were added to a finished robot design, this could a much needed outlet for patients with little to no contact with the outside world.
But this particular experiment is not the first of its kind, only the first to use non-invasive techniques to control said avatar. Instead of an implant to register brain activity and intent, signals were received using only a skull cap.
Ideally, projects like this could greatly improve the quality of life for patients who are often overlooked. There's only so much you can do for someone who has no control over his or her limbs. Perhaps a robot skeleton could be contrived to help people paralyzed partially or fully to get around. Or just allow them to sample outside life from the comfort (and safety) of their hospital room.