The human brain is powerful and impressive, and innovative thinkers have come up with some truly remarkable ways to harness the potential of brain waves. For example, brain-controlled technology has been used in robots and prosthetic limbs that give mobility back to the disabled and injured.
Video game creators have been able to design devices that translate brain waves into actions for entertainment and tactical training. But a new piece of technology promises to do something entirely different with brain waves: drive a car.
The BrainDriver Application
A San Francisco-based company, Emotiv, developed a new application with a brain-computer interface called BrainDriver. This application enables people to control cars without using a steering wheel and with only their brains. Raul Rojas, the leading researcher and artificial intelligence professor at Freie Universitat Berlin, explains that BrainDriver uses a neuroheadset to record brain activity and uses the type of electroencephalography (EEG) originally developed for playing video games.
How BrainDriver Works
Not surprisingly, driving with one's brain takes a fair bit of practice before getting the hang of it. Before using the technology, drivers must go through numerous rounds of mental training to learn how to move virtual objects just by thinking about them. Rojas and his team are convinced that the human brain is capable of moving objects and perform actions like steering, accelerating, and braking.
Specific actions correspond with different brain activity patterns and the team's software translates the patterns into driving commands. Turn left, turn right, speed up, and slow down can now be accomplished with nothing more than thinking about the commands and not moving a muscle.
Rojas and his research team have been testing out BrainDriver in a modified Volkswagen Passat Variant 3C. For road tests, they headed to the former Berlin Tempelhof airport. However, they insist that the technology is not road ready just yet, so tech enthusiasts will need to wait awhile before planning to try it out for themselves.
Connecting to Self-Driving Cars
According to Rojas, "The BrainDriver application is of course a demonstration and not roadworthy yet, but in the long run human-machine interfaces like this could bear huge potential in combination with autonomous driving."
Auto tech news has been flooded with updates about self-driving cars lately, and brain-driven cars could complement the self-driving technology quite nicely. Some drivers may even feel more comfortable with autonomous cars if they control them with their brains rather than giving up full control to the computer.
This technology is also promising news for the disabled and people that have suffered from paralysis. Robotic innovations have helped the disabled increase their mobility and independence at home, and soon it may do the same for them out on the roads as well.