It’s not quite Professor Xavier-level mind control, but researchers at AutoNOMOS Labs in Germany have developed a system that drives a vehicle by reading a person’s brain waves. So this is what it feels like to watch the future.
The researchers had previously built autonomous cars and vehicles that could be controlled with an iPhone. Building a brain wave control required teaching a computer to read the electromagnetic signals from a set of sensors worn by a test driver/thinker, which at the moment is simply turning, accelerating and braking. The system isn’t roadworthy — as the video shows, there’s still a lag time between the driver’s thought and the car’s reaction, and it’s not clear how precise the system can be — but it does prove the concept works.
And how might it be used? The research team told IEEE Spectrum that the system could be paired with an autonomous taxi system; passengers could deliver directions simply by thinking them. We can see a downside; it’s not always so easy to control our thoughts. What happens when someone gets Dave Matthews singing “Crash Into Me” stuck in their heads?