Just Think to Drive!

February 18, 2011 Leave a comment Go to comments

“Imagine you could drive your car using only your thoughts. German researchers have just made that possible — and they have the video to prove it.

Following his recent interview on the Robots Podcast about autonomous vehicles, Raúl Rojas, an AI professor at the Freie Universität Berlin, and his team have demonstrated how a driver can use a brain interface to steer a vehicle. Here’s what the researchers say about the project, which they call the BrainDriver:

After testing iPhone, iPad and an eye-tracking device as possible user interfaces to maneuver our research car, named “MadeInGermany,” we now also use Brain Power. 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.

To record brain activity, the researchers use an Emotiv “neuroheadset,” an electroencephalography, or EEG, sensor by San Francisco-based company Emotiv, which design it for gaming. After a few rounds of “mental training,” the driver learns to move virtual objects only by thinking. Each action corresponds to a different brain activity pattern, and the BrainDriver software associates the patterns to specific commands — turn left, turn right, accelerate etc. The researchers then feed these commands to the drive-by-wire system of the vehicle, a modified Volkswagen Passat Variant 3c. Now the driver’s thoughts can control the engine, brakes, and steering.”

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