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World's first brain-powered car being developed

While self-driving cars are poised to be the next big automotive thing, researchers in China are working on a car that can be driven with your mind.

Google Self-Driving Car
Google may be pioneering self-driving technology (pictured is its prototype autonomous car), but a Chinese group of researchers are developing another futuristic vehicular concept -- the brain-powered car.

Automotive giants like Toyota, Nissan and Tesla have said self-driving cars are around the corner, but that may not be the only futuristic automotive tech to come our way.

A team at China's Nankai University have developed a prototype of a car controlled by a driver's brain signals, Reuters reports. The team is working on technology that uses brain signals to command a car to stop, move forward, backwards, lock and unlock, according to the publication.

Zhang Zhao, one of the project's researchers, explained that headgear comprised of 16 electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, which detect brain activity, is worn by the driver. A computer is then able to analyse and decipher brain signals and translate them to the relevant automotive commands, he said.

Innovation within the field of consumer vehicles is at a high, with the industry being on the cusp of delivering partially autonomous cars. Google, after many years of testing out the technology, revealed its intentions to release smart automobiles for sale in the next five years. This is backed up by Toyota and Nissan, who have both pegged 2020 as the year in which self-driving cars begin to become a reality for consumers.

The technology is still very much a work-in-progress, with the researchers at the stage where their cars, provided by Chinese manufacturer Great Wall Motors, can drive in a straight line using brain power.

The brain-fuelled automotive project was born out of the desire to help physically handicapped people drive, said associate professor and project leader Duan Feng.

It was noted by the team that there are currently no plans to mass-produce the technology.