By Tuan Nguyen
Posting in Energy
Researchers have developed a technology that allows people to control a car using just their brain.
There may come a day when drivers can legally get behind the wheel of a car and say "look ma, no hands!"
While the basic manner in which humans steer their vehicles has remained virtually unchanged for about as long as automobiles have been on the road, we may be at the cusp of a driving renaissance. Researchers have already modified cars to drive themselves, allow the blind to drive and be controlled in a myriad of unconventional ways.
For instance, the AutoNOMOS Labs research team at Freie Universität in Berlin has developed an iPad app that lets users order a self-driving car to come pick them up, and a series of modifications that allow a vehicle to be controlled remotely using an iPhone.
Now those same researchers have developed a technology that allows people to control a car using just their brain. It's far from road ready, but scientists felt confident enough in their work to wow the public with a video demonstration.
Prior to driving, drivers must put on an EEG device and use it to train their brains to move objects displayed on a screen. A software program called BrainDriver records this information and uses it to read and understand the intentions behind specific kinds of brain patterns.
For the demonstration, the researchers modified a Volkswagon Passat to carry out brain commands by installing an intricate system of cameras, GPS, laser scanners and radar that helps the car get a good feel for road conditions, which the vehicle uses to make the proper turns, brake, and accelerate. The driver's intentions are detected using a headset comprised of EEG sensors and relayed to a computer program that accurately interprets the various brain inputs and executes the commands.
Here's the demonstration video:
The researchers didn't mention which consumers would be interested in a mind-controlled car, but I can see a potential application for the disabled who are physically unable to steer their cars. And I guess people who just really don't like turning the steering wheel might be interested as well.
To learn more about projects at AutoNOMOS labs, check out their website
Photo: AutoNOMOS Labs
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Feb 17, 2011
Judging by the current abilities large portion of drivers they will need a version for the mentally vacant as well as the distracted and Narcoleptic. I don't trust them with a wheel in their hand.... I'm surely not going to trust them when the wheel is in their head.
I suppose all those with ADD will be disqualified... I hope. Are we really going to leave our driving to Microsoft and Apple? Are we going to have to re-install the operating system in mid-drive? I see security issues in the midst...
I think the idea of making a "smart car" that can drive the streets using the same visual aids as us is not the way to go. What about transponders embedded in the roadway to tell the car the speed limit, when a traffic light or stop sign is coming up? Sensors in front of the car can tell how far away from another car it is. Don't design a car to drive the way WE drive but design a car to drive the way IT drives. Within the city limits this would be the way to go. Central computers could regulate each car when it comes to four way stops, traffic lights and so forth. The computer system would have to be "fail safe" with redundancy built in such as dual or more computers acting in tandem like the space shuttle computers, back up power and so forth. Outside the city limits or in rural areas then the car can be driven by the driver.
This might be better received if it were backed up by cars that can already drive themselves in the first place. Think of WHERE you want to go, the car confirms your destination via a monitor and perhaps by speaking it aloud. You confirm by either pressing a button, saying a word, or thinking that IS where you want to go. The car would then drive to the destination using it's GPS and onboard sensors. Your mind would in essence be a passenger to the driving being done by the computer, but by issuing a mental command, you could change the destination, switch it to manual driving by grasping the wheel and pressing a button or issuing a mental command while doing so. The car CAN be convenient, but the computers need to have as much control as the driver does, and should only override the driver's manual operation if asked to switch to auto, with a destination at hand, or in case a collision is imminent, in which case not only the car affected reacts immediately but all surrounding cars do too.
Red light and speeding tickets probably wouldn't happen, but what about DUIs? Charged with Thinking While Intoxicated?
I've already been tagged by 2 people on cell phones and a 3 texting. I can hardly wait for this answer to happen to a question that wasn't asked. Although the suggestion above concerning powered wheelchairs is an exellent idea!
only if the car is smart enough to know that whoever is behind the wheel is attnentive to surroundings and what's their mental state.any computer driven device is only as good as the programing
It would be intersting, with this technology, to be able to input a destination and have the car figure out the best route and drive it. Perhaps that will be the next step.
I was thinking along the same lines as mahogan2000 I know I usually decompress and think about my day, what I need to pick up on my way home, all kinds of stuff while on the road. I am curious as to how the device deals with the unfocused mind.
There are already too many scatterbrains out in traffic. What happens when the driver gets a fright, like a wasp that lands on his/her arm while on the expressway. Or he sees a nice bikinilady on the pavement, or she sees a "Sale, everything must go" sign. No, I do not want to see this invention in traffic, there are too many things that can go wrong at high speeds. Wheelchairs and such would be ideal, but for cars: no thank you.
How does a car react to the driver thinking - I like those shoes in that shop? I want a burger from that stall? Do wandering minds lead to wandering cars? At least with hands, something keeps it going in roughly the right direction. The fun I will have with a super powered headset, controlling other cars as they pass me in the street.
The bluetooth link to garage door opener will lose sync and the safety override won't let the car start. It can be fixed by a update but the wireless is down and your kid poured soda in the usb slot.