Brain-powered car developed at Chinese University
Wed 15 Jul 2015
Researchers at Nankai University in Tianjin, China are working alongside Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor to design a car which can be controlled by the mind alone.
The vehicle, tested today, uses a 16 sensor headset which captures electromagnetic signals given out by the user’s brain. The smart car system is then able to analyse and process that information, translating them accordingly into commands to accelerate, break and open and shut the doors.
The brain-powered car successfully moved forward and backwards, locked and unlocked, during today’s trials.
The prototype aims at rivalling self-driving cars developed by U.S. tech giant Google, as well as its Chinese rival Baidu, which last month announced that it hopes to release its first commercial model by the end of the year.
The mind-controlled car is still far from being commercially available, but the Nankai team hope that one day it will be able to provide support for disabled drivers.
“The technology is quite mature, however, there is some room for improvement concerning the car’s electronics, which will make the vehicle more secure, intelligent, and user-friendly,” said Duan Feng, associate professor at Nankai’s computing and control engineering department.
A team of researchers at the Free University of Berlin has also explored brain interfaces to steer vehicles. The German-based team, led by artificial lab professor Dr. Raul Rojas, used a headset and electroencephalography (EEG) sensors designed by bioinformatics company Emotiv. The system was able to interpret the driver’s thoughts such as desire to turn left, right, accelerate and brake, and create computer commands.
Mind-controlled cars are still limited as they can only process binary instructions – slight left and right turns and holding a door ajar for example are currently impossible. The user must also maintain complete focus and relaxation while controlling the car.