TEDx speaker Henry Evans gives out candy and opens his fridge … via robot!

Today in the world’s a pretty amazing place — how quadriplegia hasn’t stopped Henry Evans from shaving, giving out Halloween candy, or even flying over his garden.

In today’s TED Talk — given at TEDxMidAtlantic  — we meet Henry Evans. In 2003, Henry became quadriplegic and mute after a stroke-like attack. But thanks to the help of Robots for Humanity — a collective of folks working to use robots to help the severely disabled live more independent lives — Henry can now shave, fetch himself a drink, even play soccer against other people with quadriplegia.

Henry’s world exploration isn’t limited to the ground, either. Henry can use the subtle movements of his head to fly a drone over his garden, onto his roof, or even on the other side of the country at Robotics For Humanity’s headquarters, all while wearing a virtual reality helmet that immerses himself in the flying robot’s universe.

In the talk, Henry tells how robots have changed his life, and how he hopes they will soon change others’:

For about two years, Robots for Humanity developed ways for me to use the PR2 as my body surrogate,” he says. “I shaved myself for the first time in 10 years … I handed out Halloween candy. I opened my refrigerator on my own. I began doing tasks around the house. I saw new and previously unthinkable possibilities to live and contribute, both for myself and others in my circumstance…

One hundred years ago, I would have been treated like a vegetable. Actually, that’s not true. I would have died.

It is up to us, all of us, to decide how robotics will be used, for good or for evil, for simply replacing people or for making people better, for allowing us to do and enjoy more. Our goal for robotics is to unlock everyone’s mental power by making the world more physically accessible to people such as myself and others like me around the globe.”

Take a few minutes and watch the whole talk. You’ll be glad you did.