February 21, 2011 weblog
Putting your brain in the drivers seat (w/ Video)
(PhysOrg.com) -- Picture driving your car without ever touching the wheel, driving a vehicle that is so user responsive to you that it is literally jacked into your thoughts. It sounds like the technology of the future, something out of a sci-fi movie doesn't it? Well, as it turns out, the future is now.
A team of German researchers, led by Raul Rojas, an AI professor at the Freie Universität Berlin, have created a car that can be driven entirely by human thoughts. The car, which has been given the name BrainDriver, was shown off to the world in a video that highlighted the thought-powered driving system on a trip to the airport.
The BrainDriver records brain activity with the help of an Emotiv neuroheadset, a non-invasive brain interface based on electroencephalography sensors, that was made by the San Francisco-based company Emotiv. The neuroheadset was originally designed for gaming. Like most new devices the human has to be trained in order to use the interface properly. After some practice runs, moving a virtual object, the user can be up and driving a modified Volkswagen Passat Variant 3c. The driver's thoughts are able to control the engine, brakes, and steering of the car. Currently, there is a small delay between the drivers thoughts and the cars response.
No word yet on how detailed controls will be for other necessary functions, for example opening the gas cap to fill up. The researchers selected the headset after rejecting several other options, including the iPad and eye-tracking devices.
The car is currently only in the prototype phase and no decision has been made as to whether or not this car will ever be made available to the public when it becomes roadworthy.
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