While most automobile manufacturers are busy researching self-driving or autonomous cars, Nissan has come up with a different technology altogether. In self-driving autonomous cars, a driver has no role to play. In these cars, people give up the wheel and rely on artificial intelligence to drive the vehicles. However, not everyone among us is ready to give up on driving. To meet the expectations of these veteran drivers, automobile companies have started implementing driver-assist features such as improved braking, handling, and parking systems. The Japanese multinational automobile giant, Nissan Motor Co., has recently announced a revolutionary technology that redefines the future of driving. Nissan’s latest technology will enable vehicles to control themselves by directly interpreting the signals from the driver’s brain. Dubbed Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V) technology, it has been developed by Nissan’s in-house research center and has the potential to redefine how people interact with cars.
How can it read your mind?
Brain-to-Vehicle technology can read the brainwaves using an electrode-studded headgear, which can read and capture the driver’s brain signals using electroencephalography (EEG) technology. These captured signals are then interpreted using artificial intelligence. B2V tech will detect the brain signals as soon as they are triggered and they are then translated into driver-assist technologies, which can take needed actions quickly. As a result, driver’s reaction times are paced up making driving much safer.
Commenting on the launch, Daniele Schillaci, executive vice president at Nissan said:
When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet Brain-to-Vehicle technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable.
This breakthrough technology from Nissan is an ideal collaboration of human driving experience paired up with semi-autonomous driving technology. B2V works on the basis of two important aspects, prediction, and detection.
By reading and interpreting brain signals, B2V tech can predict a driver’s actions and helps the driver to initiate the actions faster — by at least 0.2 to 0.5 seconds. Actions such as turning the wheel, applying the brakes, accelerating, or taking quick turns can be read and can reduce reaction times. All these provide a better, safer, and efficient manual driving experience.
This is another important application of B2V tech. It detects and evaluates the driver’s position and other aspects such as the pressure, temperature, and other aspects of a car. This can detect discomforts in the driving position of the driver, the temperature within the car, and more and can be tuned for the driver’s comfort when used in autonomous mode.
What is it like to drive a car powered by Brain-to-Vehicle technology?
So, how would it be to drive a car, which is half-human controlled and half autonomous from an end user’s standpoint? If you’re driving a car powered by Nissan’s Brain-to-Vehicle technology, all your reflexes will be interpreted the very moment they are generated in the brain and will be used to assist you in driving. All your comforts and essentials will be taken care by B2V’s detection tech, and your driving position, the temperature within the car, handling, mode of driving, will be adjusted as per your convenience, without you having to explicitly set things up.
Practical possibility and challenges
Although the concept of capturing and interpreting signals generated from the brain seems to be a fascinating mechanism to enhance the driving experience, industry experts have some doubts about its practical implementation.
Since the brain constantly works on multiple things, various such signals are generated simultaneously. Some question the technology’s ability to filter out all other signals generated by the brain and consider just the ones related to driving. For example, what about a scenario where a driver “thinks” of bumping the car off-road or hitting other vehicles. How will B2V deal with this kind of ill-advised brain signals generated? Even apart from this real potential problem, the most obvious challenge with Brain-to-Vehicle technology is the driver must wear a headgear. A driver wearing any kind of sensor-embedded device would be considered awkward and intrusive by most of us.
Nissan is the first company to integrate real-time brain activities in the automobiles to enhance the driving experience. Nissan claims that B2V technology is the world’s first tech of its kind and says that there are various other possible applications of this. While the practical implementation of this technology might take five to 10 years to bring it to production, the company has already demonstrated the abilities and capabilities of this technology at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) show in Las Vegas in January.
Photo credit: Nissan