Car can be steered with thought alone

Posted by Emma Woollacott

If you like to let your thoughts wander while driving, then this car's definitely not for you. Not content with having created a car that can be steered entirely through eye movements, engineers at Freie Universität Berlin have now built one that can be controlled with the power of thought alone.

Using new, commercially-available sensors for recording electroencephalograms (EEGs), the scientists asked a subject to imagine moving cubes around a virtual environment. In this way, they were able to distinguish the bioelectrical wave patterns for commands such as 'left', 'right', 'accelerate' and 'brake'.

They then developed an interface to connect the sensors to the steering, accelerator and brakes of the car, which is otherwise completely computer-controlled.

This made it possible for the subject to influence the movement of the car using only his or her thoughts.

In a second test version, the car drove largely automatically, but via the EEG sensors the driver was able to determine the direction at intersections.

"In our test runs, a driver equipped with EEG sensors was able to control the car with no problem – there was only a slight delay between the envisaged commands and the response of the car," says Professor Raúl Rojas, who heads the Autonomos project.

However, the team acknowledges that MadeInGermany and its BrainDriver software are 'not roadworthy yet'.