Innovation That Matters

Smart cap

A car that can read your mind

Mobility & Transport

An experimental cap collects data that helps predict how drivers want to drive.

Many companies have been developing technology in the area of autonomous driving, such as driverless smart trucks and self-delivering cars. Now, Japanese car manufacturer Nissan is developing a new technology, dubbed Brainwave. It allows vehicles to read the brain activity of drivers, and alter their driving in response. The technology uses an electroencephalograph (EEG) cap to measure brain-wave activity. The Brainwave system then decodes and analyses this data.

Brainwave is designed to be used in conjunction with a driver, as a semi-autonomous, rather than a fully autonomous, system. Researchers discovered that brain waves can help predict when a driver wants to initiate actions, such as turning the wheel. With its predictive capability, the system can start this motion a fraction of a second before the driver, giving a smoother ride. The system can also learn to anticipate when the driver wants a more sporty ride, for example, and adjust accordingly. Nissan suggests that the system could be a gateway to fully autonomous vehicles, helping drivers learn to trust this type of technology. Another use for the system could be controlling the vehicle’s interior environment. By predicting when the driver is too cold, the system can turn on the heater.

Nissan has no plans to introduce the system right away. For one, the Brainwave’s EEG cap is cumbersome and requires drivers to first spend time wearing the cap in a driving simulator, so the system can gather data. Rather, Nissan is preparing for a time five to ten years in the future. They predict all of Nissan’s autonomous vehicles will include this technology by then. Will a system similar to this allow autonomous driving systems to read riders’ minds?



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