Nissan’s future cars could read your mind
Imagine a car that knew what you were going to do next – and helped you do it. Nissan is developing technology that can read a driver’s brainwaves to work out if they’re about to steer, turn, brake or accelerate, and begin the manoeuvre for them – so quickly that they don’t even notice.
Christened brain-to-vehicle technology, Nissan says its purpose is to make driving more enjoyable – but it could almost certainly make self-driving cars safer too.
To use the technology, the driver puts on a kind of skullcap that measures their brain activity. An artificial intelligence system then predicts their actions and starts them 0.2 to 0.5 seconds before the driver reacts. Assuming the technology interprets the driver’s brain activity correctly, it’s akin to making their reaction times ever so slightly quicker – and at a speed which would be hardly noticeable.
“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines,” said Nissan vice-president Daniele Schillaci.
“Brain-to-vehicle technology does the opposite, by using signals from the driver’s own brain to make the drive more exciting and enjoyable.”
The technology can also detect discomfort, and hence could use these signals to change its driving configuration or style in autonomous mode. Nissan has already developed its semi-autonomous ProPilot system.
Senior innovation researcher Lucian Gheorghe, who is leading the brain-to-vehicle research at the Nissan Research Centre in Japan, added: ”Other possible uses include adjusting the vehicle’s internal environment. The potential applications of the technology are incredible. Nissan is the first manufacturer that is bringing real-time brain activity in vehicles as a means for enhancing driving pleasure.”
One of the many issues which arises in the development of self-driving cars is how much control the driver still has. Some companies believe no driver intervention should be required, because their tests have shown that drivers become too distracted to take control quickly enough. But
Nissan’s brain-to-vehicle system is fully manual with just a little bit of technological help. The company says its goal is to offer the optimum level of driving assistance in manual driving mode.
The Japanese company unveiled the technology at the annual Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas earlier this year, and the Independent reported that it could be available within five to 10 years.
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