Researchers from the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne and the Japanese car manufacturer Nissan have for the first time been able to read the electrical signals of a driver’s brain before their future actions and to transmit them to a vehicle in motion to optimize driving.
José del R. Millán, professor in the area of brain-machine interfaces at the Federal Polytechnic School of Lausanne (EPFL) and director of the Defitech Chair In Brain-Machine Interface (CNBI ), has directed the technical team that has managed to read the brain indications that occur during driving, signaling the pilot to brake, accelerate or change lanes, and transmit them to a moving vehicle.
Thanks to the few milliseconds that are placed between the brain order and manual execution, the smart car can facilitate driving and anticipate a braking or turning, even before the indication of the brain reaches the hands or feet of the driver.
As the car is also equipped with environmental sensors, this new capability will help drivers in difficult traffic conditions, according to the researchers.
The brain signals of the driver, which occur in the motor cortex and frontal of the brain, are detected thanks to an electroencephalography helmet (EEG) equipped with captors. These signals are transmitted to the intelligent vehicle, which interprets them and acts accordingly taking into account the information gathered by the environmental sensors of the vehicle, which are imperceptible to the driver.
José del R. Millán explains in a statement that, if we reach a traffic light that has turned red and therefore we are going to brake, the vehicle will take advantage of 200-500 milliseconds to start braking before it stops. the driver would do it and thus facilitate driving.
And vice versa, continues Millán, if at the red light the driver’s brain shows no sign of slowing down, the vehicle will warn him that the light is red, to make sure he is informed. The vehicle knows that the traffic light has been turned red by the environmental sensors.
Millán adds: “our eyes are constantly in motion to observe what happens around us, but not everything we observe is relevant or important. We seek to detect the brain signals that indicate that such an object or situation has caught our attention and that they should be taken into account by the vehicle. ”
Another additional advantage of the system is its customization. Since each person generates different models of brain signals, the vehicle system will learn from the driver’s brain reactions and personalize their behavior.
It will keep in its memory the routes and customs, as well as the way of driving, to adapt and anticipate movements according to the personality of each user driver of the system.
For this reason, the brain-machine system of these Japanese cars will not only help in driving, but also customize it so that the vehicle is adapted to each driver.
Even the parameters of the vehicle can be adapted to your preferences in a transparent way: you can discover a driver’s disagreement with the driving style and change it to the driver’s preferred one, for example from the sport mode to the comfort and relax mode.