A joint project of scientists from Japan and France (CRNS-AIST Joint Robotics Laboratory) is the development of software that will allow a person to control a robot using only the power of thought. One of the predicted areas of application is an increase in the degree of independence of paralyzed people. After all, such a robot can significantly help in everyday life.
A person will need to focus on the symbols that appear on the computer screen (for example, on the arrow). On the subject’s head at this time, there are EEG sensors (electroencephalography), which read brain activity and interpret it in an understandable signal system. After which the robot receives this signal and goes to execute the command.
Of course, from this it is clear that you don’t have to wait for any special miracles - with the help of this system the robot can move in the indicated direction. But the communication method is constantly being improved - for example, the robot can approach the table and use the camera to transfer the image of objects on the table to the monitor, and the person will only have to focus on the necessary thing so that the robot takes it and brings it.
This project can be considered an improved version of ASIMO, which could perform similar actions (2007).
A method for issuing commands is also developing - you can refuse to use the EEG in favor of an eye tracking system so that the system understands which object the person is currently looking at on the monitor. Of course, there are problems with the accuracy of recognition. It is also proposed to use brain implants for this.
Avatar is still a long way off, really.