- By James FitzGerald
- BBC News
Elon Musk’s brain chip company says it has received approval from the US Food and Drugs Administration (FDA) to perform its first human tests.
Implant company Neuralink wants to help restore people’s vision and mobility by linking brains to computers.
He says he has no immediate plans to start recruiting participants. Mr Musk’s previous ambitions to start testing came to nothing.
The FDA said it acknowledged Neuralink’s announcement.
An earlier bid by Neuralink for FDA approval was rejected on safety grounds, according to a March report by Reuters news agency that cited several current and former employees.
Neuralink hopes to use its microchips to treat conditions such as paralysis and blindness, and to help some people with disabilities use computers and mobile technology.
The chips – which have been tested on monkeys – are designed to interpret signals produced in the brain and transmit the information to devices via Bluetooth.
Experts have warned that Neuralink’s brain implants will require extensive testing to overcome technical and ethical challenges if they are to become widely available.
The approval was “the result of incredible work by the Neuralink team working closely with the FDA,” he said.
The company promised more information “soon” about plans to enroll trial participants.
Its website promises that “security, accessibility, and reliability” are all priorities during its engineering process.
The company – which was co-founded by Mr Musk in 2016 – has repeatedly overestimated how quickly it can execute its plans.
Its original goal was to start planting chips in human brains in 2020, to honor a promise made the year before. He then promised to start in 2022.
A paralyzed man from the Netherlands has been able to walk just by thinking about it – thanks to a system of implants that wirelessly transmit his thoughts to his legs and feet.