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February 23, 2011

Mind-Controlled Car Performs Well in Initial Tests

A team of German researchers are working to perfect a computerized technology that is capable of enabling drivers to control their vehicles using just their thoughts.

Professor Raul Rojas, head of the AutoNOMOS innovation labs at Freie Universiat Berlin, and his colleagues developed the autonomous driving system using commercially-available sensors and an inventive interface that relays brain wave information to a computer-controlled vehicle.

To start the project, the scientists used electroencephalogram sensors to measure the brain waves of subjects while they were asked to think of certain driving cues, like "accelerate" or "turn left." This experiment allowed the research team to "train" the computer to interpret brain waves into specific driving prompts.

The scientists then developed an interface to connect the sensors to the steering wheel, accelerator and brakes of a computerized, self-driving vehicle. Rojas and his colleagues were amazed with the results of the tests, which took place on the site of the former Tempelhof Airport.

"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," said Rojas.

The team then took the vehicle out on a second test run where drivers were able to make appropriate turns at intersections using only their thoughts. The mind-controlled driving solution is still in its infancy stages and is "not roadworthy yet," according to TG Daily.

Click here to watch a short YouTube video on how the system works.

While the idea of a mind-controlled car is certainly a new one, the concept of automated vehicles has been in the works for some time. In fact, Google is currently road-testing seven automated cars all around the state of California to try and perfect the technology.

The vehicles are equipped with cameras, radar sensors and a laser range finder that allow them to "see" other cars and react accordingly. Click here to learn more about that story.

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