The best kick of the 2014 World Cup’s opening match went about 6 feet only, and was almost cut out from the live TV broadcast, but still, it was a scientific milestone in human history. As the successful result of many years of research, the opening kick at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo was delivered by a paraplegic man, the 29-year-old Juliano Pinto, who stood up, and kicked the ball with the help of a full body robotic mind-controlled exoskeleton.As we have reported in the past, the full body robotic suit that helped Pinto kick the ball was created by the Walk Again Project, an international collaborative effort involving 150 researchers led by the Brazilian neuroscientist Dr. Miguel Nicolelis, now based at Duke University.
The suit is built with lightweight metals and powered by hydraulics. The exoskeleton-like machine allows the wearer to move by simply thinking about moving. This technology could one day take the place of wheelchairs.
“The patient imagines that he wants to move, to walk. This is detected by sensors and sent to a computer which interprets this information and sends info to the exoskeleton,” Nicolelis told the Washington Post.
The electrodes in Pinto’s blue helmet helped him use his brain to control the exoskeleton to take a few steps and take the ceremonial first kick before the opening match. The ball went about 6 feet before it was given to the match officials.
“We did it!!!” Dr. Miguel Nicolelis tweeted right after the successful conclusion of the project.
We did it!!!!
— Miguel Nicolelis (@MiguelNicolelis) June 12, 2014