As the development for fully-autonomous cars ramps up, researchers from Nankai University in China have successfully demonstrated a new technology that allows a person to remotely control a vehicle using only their thoughts, using signals from the brain to control acceleration, braking, and other basic functions.

The car-controlling device features 16 sensors that read electroencephalogram signals (we’ll just call it EEG) from the “driver’s” brain and translates them into the controls of the car.

Researcher Zhang Zhao spoke to Reuters, explaining the technology:

“The tester’s EEG signals are picked up by this (brain signal-reading) equipment and transmitted wirelessly to the computer. The computer processes the signals to categorize and recognize people’s intention, then translates them into control command to the car. The core of the whole flow is to process the EEG signals, which is done on the computer,” said Zhang.

In the demonstration of the technology at it’s current stage, the driver was able to drive forward, stop, reverse, and lock or unlock the doors without any physical connection to the controls of the vehicle — only the thoughts of his mind translated through a computer software.

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The overall goal of the research is to help future cars and other robotic technologies better serve people, particularly individuals with handicaps or special needs who otherwise wouldn’t be able to traditionally operate machinery, as well as better servicing all users in cars and other applications.

The team isn’t worried about so-called competition from the rapid development of computerized autonomy in vehicles, instead suggesting that mind-control could possible create a more comfortable and intuitive connection between the car’s computer and the thoughts and intentions of the controller — perhaps using thoughts instead of physical inputs or voice commands.

I’ve always feared something else accessing my thoughts, but if it means I don’t have to fully wake-up for another few minutes in the morning, instead putting on a headdress and just thinking to the car where I want to go (Starbucks or some such place), and be autonomously whisked away, well sign me up.

PHOTO CREDIT: GETTY IMAGES


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