Chinese researchers debut mind-controlled car

Mind-controlled car
(Image credit: ChinaFotoPress/ChinaFotoPress via Getty Images)

Google thinks self-driving cars are the future — but these researchers from China's Nankai University believe they've got it beat.

The researchers took their mind-controlled car for its first spin on Wednesday. Driving around Nankai's grounds, they were able to accelerate, brake, go in reverse, and even open and shut doors just using their minds. (Turning, however, still had to be done the old-fashioned way.)

"The technology is quite mature, however, there is some room for improvement concerning the car's electronics, which will make the vehicle more secure, intelligent, and user-friendly," said head researcher Duan Feng, associate professor of computing and control engineering. His team is partnering with Great Wall Motor and hopes to take on the self-driving cars being developed by Google and Baidu. Feng believes the car could be especially promising for the disabled.

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State-owned news agency Xinhua explains how it works:

The car is controlled via a headset with 16 sensors that sends impulses from the user's brain to the car's processing system...The sensors capture brain signals and the recognition system analyzes them, translates them into driving instructions, and sends them to the car. [Xinhua]

It turns out this isn't actually the first mind-controlled car to be debuted — it's just the first in China. Researchers from Germany (who else?) debuted their "Brain Driver" in 2014 — and it could turn, too.

Quick word of advice, though: Just don't talk too much while driving. Or listen to a book on tape. Or check that text message. Or...

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