Neuralink still on track for first human trials by end of 2022

Credit: Neuralink

Elon Musk shared a few updates on Neuralink, including that the company is still on track for human trials by the end of 2022. 

In February 2021, Musk shared that Neuralink was working “super hard” to make its brain implant safe. He also stated that Neuralink was closely communicating with the FDA to start initial human trials later that year. However, 2021 passed with no human trials. Earlier this year, Neuralink opened jobs for a Clinical Trial Director and Clinical Trial Coordinator, which suggested that the company is closer to testings its device on humans.

Recently, Musk noted that Neuralink might be able to address morbid obesity. The first time Musk broached the topic was during his TED interview with Chris Anderson. He told Anderson that Neuralink would focus on solving brain and spinal injuries within the next decade. 

“We’re working on bridging broken links between brain & body. Neuralinks in motor & Sensory cortex riding past weak/broken links in neck/spine to Neuralinks in spinal cord should theoretically be able to restore full body functionality,” Elon Musk said in response to a Teslarati article.

Musk also told Anderson that the Neuralink device could address health conditions like morbid obesity in the long run. Professor Andrew Jackson from Newcastle University — and an expert in neural interfaces — noted that Musk’s claims about Neuralink are probable. Jackson specifically stated that Neuralink implants are less invasive than other morbid obesity treatments. 

Musk enumerated Neuralink’s main focuses to reach its current goals. He noted an “electronics/mechanical/software engineering problem” with the Neuralink implant. The SpaceX CEO compared the problem with the complexity of a smartwatch, which he admitted is not easy. Musk invited anyone who has experience in engineering and manufacturing smartwatches or phones to join Neuralink because their skills are “directly applicable.”

The Tesla CEO also highlighted that Neuralink is in the midst of developing its surgical robot, which is essential to linking the implant with the brain. Musk noted that the surgical robot is comparable to a state-of-the-art computer numerical control (CNC) machine.

According to a 2021 Neuralink video, the company’s brain implant consists of a “puck” containing the “secret sauce active electronics” and flexible electrodes that are around 50 microns wide, 5 microns thick, and 20 millimeters long. The electrodes attached to the puck were often referred to as “threads” in the video or compared to hair strands. The electrodes are very fragile. 

“Those tiny little flexible hairs are too small for a human to handle, even like with tweezers. And that’s where the robot comes in,” stated Jamie, a Neuralink electrical engineer. 

Learn more about the Neuralink Robot below!

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Neuralink still on track for first human trials by end of 2022
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