German engineers have created a car, the direction and speed of which can be overridden by the driver’s thoughts. The practical implication could be cars for people with disabilities that prevent them driving regular cars.
The semi-autonomous Volkswagen Passat has been christened “MadeInGermany,” reports New Scientist.
It’s fully capable of driving itself or interfacing with other interesting control systems like the iPad or iPhone. And the car can perform 360-degree obstacle detection and sense a car in front from its fenders up to 200 metres away, using laser radars, microwave radars and stereo cameras.
To test how the driver’s thoughts will control the car, Raul Rojas at the Free University of Berlin in Germany and his colleagues got a volunteer to wear an off-the-shelf mind-control headset containing 16 electroencephelogram (EEG) sensors.
A software development kit allows users to train it to sense brainwave patterns indicative of certain thoughts. With the car, the user trained an on-screen cube to move left on a screen when he wanted to turn left, and vice versa.
"Our test drives showed that there is only a slight delay between the intended command and the actual reaction of the car. This is, of course, a demonstration and is not roadworthy yet - but in the long run, human-machine interfaces like this could have huge potential in combination with autonomously driven cars,” the team say on their website.