If you were impressed by Google Inc.'s autonomous computer-controlled cars, you will be stunned by the BrainDriver - A car that can be controlled with your mind!
The genius behind this smart car is a team of computer scientists led by Paul Rojas who heads the Artificial Intelligence Group at Germany's Freie Universitat Berlin. To build the prototype, that they dubbed MadeInGermany, the group started by using commercially available devices to detect and record the electroencephalograms (EEG) or the brain's electrical activity associated with four basic car control commands - left, right, accelerate and brake.
They then programmed a computer controlled autonomous car with the patterns so that it would recognize them and know how to react. Next, they purchased an 'Emotive neuroheadset' developed for video games by San Francisco based Emotive that is designed to 'read' the player's thoughts and connected it to the autonomous car that had been programmed to react to the driver's thoughts.
However, while the car was ready, the driver was not. He still had to be trained so that he could think of the right commands at the appropriate times. Then, it was time to test the mind-controlled vehicle!
While the drive along the straight stretch of road was controlled by the car's computer when it came to turns, stopping or speeding up, the computer read the driver's commands conveyed via the Emotive neuroheadset fitted on his head. The experiment, as you can see from the video below, was quite successful. With just a slight delay in reaction, the car seemed to do exactly what its driver was thinking it to do.
This kind of futuristic car is of course nowhere close to coming to a car dealer near you, but the scientists believe that these thought driven commands have a lot of advantages even within today's normal cars, especially when it comes to preventing accidents.
That's because tests have shown that the human brain thinks about stopping long before the body reacts - meaning, that if we can develop cars that can stop based on our thoughts, the roads could become a lot safer - Pretty awesome!
Resources: news.discovery.com, autonomos.inf.fu-berlin.de