Nissan developing brain-powered steering

In the future, thinking about turning left may no longer be just a thought. Japanese auto giant Nissan and a Swiss university are developing cars that scan the driver's thoughts and prepares the vehicle for the next move.

Automobiles

In the future, thinking about turning left may no longer be just a thought. Japanese auto giant Nissan and a Swiss university are developing cars that scan the driver's thoughts and prepares the vehicle for the next move.

This follows on from news earlier this month that researchers from the Berlin Institute of Technology are working on harnessing the driver's brainwaves to help with emergency braking.

Currently, researchers from the Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL) in Switzerland are using brain machine interface technology (BMI) to match brainwave patterns to intent, and thus control the movements of a wheelchair.

"The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment," said Jose del R. Millan, a professor at Swiss technological university EPFL who is leading the project.

The project uses "brain activity measurement, eye movement patterns and by scanning the environment around the car in conjunction with the car's own sensors" to forecast the driver's next move.

The vehicle then prepares itself for the manoeuvre by slowing down if necessary, or positioning slightly left or right. Cameras mounted on the vehicle monitor the environs, so brainwave impulses are interpreted in context.

An EPFL spokesperson said the research would last four years, and that "at the end of that period, we hope to have a prototype ready".

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