Mind Over Matter

Brain-controlled vehicles may be the future of transportation

TrendCentral notes: In 2009, Mattel released a game that challenged players to navigate a foam ball through an obstacle course using only their minds. While some found the concept shocking, just two years later, the same technology is being tested by transportation engineers. From cars to bikes, “neuroergonomic” navigation is imminent.

BrainDriver: Cruise control can be convenient on open roads, but imagine driving cross country while expending no more effort than that of basic thought. The concept is being tested with BrainDriver, a mind-controlled car.  Before the driver begins, the car’s software is trained to identify brainwave patterns. This is accomplished by wearing the Emotiv neuroheadset and performing a series of computer tasks like learning to move virtual objects. The recorded electromagnetic signals are associated with simple driving commands so that when the device is connected to the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes, the vehicle is able to recognize the different mental activities and respond accordingly. No kidding.

Prius X Parlee: With all the ingenious innovations for bike commuters coming to market, it’s hard to imagine how cycling could get any cooler. However, the mind-controlled Toyota Prius x Parlee (PXP) concept bike breaks new ground. Looking to expand its brand beyond cars, Prius partnered with Parlee Cycles to develop a bicycle that could become as influential as hybrid vehicles. The bike’s aerodynamic carbon fiber frame is outfitted with a wireless transmitter mounted underneath the seat. In conjunction with a specialized bike helmet, sensors detect neuro-electrical signals and communicate the information to the transmitter. Thus, a cyclist can command the bike to shift up or down using nothing but their mind.

Mind-Controlled Brakes: A second may seem like an insignificant amount of time, but a vehicle going 60 mph that brakes 130 milliseconds sooner has the potential to avoid collision by an entire car’s length. While some cars already have the ability to recognize a future traffic accidentat the first moment the brakes are hit, the Berlin Institute of Technology is working to push automotive safety one step further. Researchers are exploring mind-reading braking systems that use EEG headsets and muscle sensors to isolate the exact millisecond a driver realizes the potential of a crash. That brief amount of time saved could potentially be enough to prevent impact altogether.


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