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Rediff.com  » Business » PHOTOs: Here comes the mind-controlled car!

PHOTOs: Here comes the mind-controlled car!

Last updated on: March 8, 2011 11:22 IST

Now, here comes the mind-controlled car!

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Can you drive your car using only your mind? Well, you might soon be able to do just that if a set of German researchers are successful in their endeavour.

Raul Rojas, an artificial intelligence professor at the Freie Universitat Berlin, and his team are working on a project called BrainDriver and recently demonstrated how a driver can use a brain interface to steer a car that the researchers named 'MadeInGermany'.

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Image: This car, named 'MadeInGermany', is a modified Volkswagen Passat and controlled by 'BrainDriver'.
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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The technology is not yet roadworthy, say the researchers, but claim that in the not-too-distant future 'human-machine interfaces could bear huge potential in combination with autonomous driving'.

How the technology works:

A special headset -- Emotiv 'neuroheadset' which is an electroencephalography (EEG) sensor developed by San Francisco-based company Emotiv and designed for gaming -- is used to record brain activity.

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Image: Daniel Goehring of AutoNOMOS research team at the Freie Universitaet demonstrates hands-free driving of the research car named 'MadeInGermany'.
Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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After some 'mental training', the user/driver learns to move virtual objects only by thinking. Each resultant action corresponds to a specific brain activity pattern.

The BrainDriver software associates various patterns with specific commands, like turn left, turn right, accelerate, slow down, etc.

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Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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The researchers then feed these commands to the drive-by-wire system of the vehicle, 'MadeInGermany' which is a modified Volkswagen Passat.

The driver's thoughts, says the research team, can now control the engine, the brakes, and the steering.

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Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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Reports suggest that such 'non-invasive' brain interface might also be able to help disabled and paralysed people to gain more mobility in the future, like what is happening currently in applications like robotic exoskeletons and advanced prosthetics.

Rojas group's research is part of the MadeInGermany project and follows previous work on autonomous cars, including his AutoNOMOS Project.


Photographs: Fabrizio Bensch/Reuters
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