While we only know of mind-control from Star Wars and other sci-fi flicks, the brain-driven car of Associate Professor Duan Feng seems both far-fetched and inspiring. Will we truly be able to move a car just by thinking it? Will we be distracted and take the wrong turn or worse, get locked in?
It’s been more than a year since Chinese researchers unveiled a mind-controlled car. The team of engineers from Tianjin’s Nankai University took two years to bring to life a system which allows a person to drive a car by using his or her brain signals and nothing else. There has been no further news about this brainchild of theirs, since then.
Mind over movement
The lead researcher, Associate Professor Duan Feng, said the idea began as an initiative to help disabled people drive cars. On the day of unveiling, Duan also emphasised how the system will greatly benefit the driverless car platform. He believed that this system will fit right in with the likes of Google Self driving Car, in the near future. He also demonstrated the system by wearing an EEG (electroencephalogram) equipment which picked up his brain signals and transmitted them to a computer, which then commanded the car to move. Without using his hands and feet, he willed the car to move in a straight line.
Think it to lock it
Ultimately the system should allow the driver’s brain to control the very basic functions of mobility and security. If and when successful, one would be able to exert mind-control over a car to move it forward and backwards, brake to a stop, and also to lock and unlock doors. When that day comes, security solutions experts like Zanden Mount Lock & Key Service say it will still be wise to keep a mobile locksmith’s phone number handy, just in case. After all, we’ve known auto lock experts decades longer than we have driverless systems.
Focus only when you need to
Answering concerns about potential accidents caused by driver distraction, Duan says that since concentration is only needed when commanding the vehicle to change lanes or when turning, the concerns are unfounded.
With the many Silicon Valley-based self-driving automotive projects, driverless cars seem closer to reality than ever. We now wait for the mind-control brainchild of Nankai University to add a new dimension — a human one. The fact that we will still be in control makes driverless technology seem more human.