Researchers in the Chinese city of Tianjin have come a step closer in turning science fiction into reality, by developing a mind-controlled car. The research team from Nankai University have spent two years to develop the vehicle. The car can go forward, backwards, stop, as well as lock and unlock, using equipment designed to read the driver’s brain signals. Researchers say that the idea for the car was inspired by disabled people who are unable to control certain aspects of the car.
The equipment uses 16 sensors to capture EEG (electroencephalogram) signals from the brain and then translate them in a way that enables control of the car. One of the researchers, Zhang Zhao, told Reuters, “The tester's EEG signals are picked up by this (brain signal-reading) equipment and transmitted wirelessly to the computer. The computer processes the signals to categorize and recognize people's intention, then translates them into control command to the car. The core of the whole flow is to process the EEG signals, which is done on the computer.”
Duan Feng, Associate Professor from Nankai University’s College of Computer Control Engineering addressed concerns about the driver being distracted while driving. He said that concentration was needed only when changing the movement status of the vehicle. He also said that it may soon be possible to combine the technology with driverless cars like Google’s Self Driving Car. “In the end, cars, whether driverless or not, and machines are serving for people. Under such circumstances, people's intentions must be recognized. In our project, it makes the cars better serve human beings,” said Feng.
However, those looking forward to owning a car that is controlled by their brain will have to wait. There are currently no plans to put the car into production. Not only that, but the current technology cannot make the vehicle change direction, a fairly important requirement for any vehicle.