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Meet the robots for humanity

In 2003, Henry Evans became quadriplegic and mute after a stroke-like attack. Now, working with Robots for Humanity, he’s a pioneer in adaptive robotic tech to help him, and other disabled people like him, navigate the world.

At age 40, Henry Evans was left mute and quadriplegic after a stroke-like attack caused by a hidden birth defect. Years of therapy helped him learn to move his head and use a finger — which allows him to use a head-tracking device to communicate with a computer using experimental interfaces.

Now, Evans is a frequent and enthusiastic collaborator with robotics teams who are developing tools to help the severely disabled navigate their lives. He collaborates with Georgia Tech professor Charlie Kemp on using the Willow Garage PR2 robot as a surrogate, as well as Chad Jenkins’ RLAB at Brown on quadrotors for expanding range of motion.

As the Willow Garage blog post says: “Every day, people take for granted the simple act of scratching an itch. In Henry’s case, 2-3 times every hour of every day he gets an itch he can’t scratch. With the aid of a PR2, Henry was able to scratch an itch for himself for the first time in 10 years.”

In their talk at TEDxMidAtlantic watch the very touching video on how Chad Jenkins and Henry Evans collaborated to help the latter navigate life after a stem-brain stroke by means of a robot he can operate solely through thought:

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