You may soon be able to drive using just your mind thanks to Nissan’s “brain-to-vehicle” tech

Nissan is working on what it’s calling “brain-to-vehicle” technology that will let you drive cars using your mind. At least, that’s the idea.

The technology is set to get a proper showcase in a driving simulator at CES 2018 next week, but it’s designed to help humans respond to dangerous situations faster than if they were simply driving the car in a traditional way.

Nissan believes that, because humans are slow to respond to thoughts, the car could simply read and react before we could and the setup would involve drivers wearing an electroencephalography (EEG) headset so the car could read their thoughts.

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The car manufacturer claims its headset shaves around 0.2 to 0.5 seconds off response time and, while that may not sound like much, it’s a massive improvement when you consider the difference could be not crashing into a car in front.

It’s hard to think of a brainwave-reading vehicle as more practical than simply developing a fully autonomous vehicle. However, the technology could make for a great segue before fully autonomous cars become road-legal and ubiquitous.

Nissan also believes its brainwave tech could vastly improve the comfort of a driverless experience. If your autonomous car can read your thoughts and detect when you’re uncomfortable or feeling unnerved, it can alter its driving to suit.

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Bizarrely, Nissan also claims its technology could extend to altering what passengers actually see when sat in the car. By using augmented reality technologies, Nissan believes it could display more pleasing views or offer calming visuals to enhance a journey. I’m not sure how you find that, but it definitely feels like something out of We Happy Few or a dystopian novel, rather than an improvement in automotive technologies.

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines,” Nissan executive president Daniele Schillaci said. “Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable”.

One area that has piqued my interest about EEG technology for fast manoeuvers in cars is how the vehicle differentiates between instinctive reactions and reasoned ones. Your instinct to do something in a given situation may not be the most sensible one and, with a little more time to think, you may approach a problem in a better way than what your first thought seems to be.

Thankfully, EEG is detailed enough to know the difference between thinking about pulling over to take a pee versus actually wanting to do that. So, perhaps it’ll know the difference between thinking about breaking in time versus weighing up if breaking or turning is smarter.

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