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When Google first unveiled its self driving car, the Chinese were obviously not very impressed and now we know why; They had a better idea in mind or at least so they thought. An idea that does not involve steerings nor accelerators, just a car and your ‘sane mind’. A chinese research team from Nankai University in Tianjin teamed up with Great Wall Motor, a Chinese automaker, to develop A headset-powered,mind-controled,self-driving car.
The car is controlled via a headset with 16 sensors that sends impulses from the user’s brain to the car’s processing system. Spectators watched as the vehicle moved to and fro, navigating difficult terrains and was locked and unlocked — all through the power of the mind. (Awesome right?).
mind controlled car
Image credit:ExtremeTech

“We connect our equipment with CAN (Controller Area Network) of the car for communication, which is a breakthrough because in the past the human brain signal can only control stuffs in visual environment or a simple thing like a wheelchair” Associate professor Duan Feng from Nankai university told a reporter during an interview with state controlled CCTV. The car does not have any known side effects on drivers (I.e the human controling the car using the mind), at least for now. You can give directions, guide turns just with a single thought. After reading these signals through the skull, the system has to turn them into instructions for the wheelchair or car. The idea is that the driver thinks one distinct thought to turn right, and another left, while the electrodes pick up the associated activity. But those thoughts won’t necessarily be as simple as the
words “left”and “right”; it could be something more abstract, like a certain place or a shape.The vehicle’s design team claimed that it was the first time Chinese researchers used mind-control to operate a car. Well, nothing is truely impossible in today’s world of innovation and endless possibilities. With this technology in place it will be entirely possible to autonomously drive a car from hundreds of kilometers away while seated comfortably at your office.

mind controlled cars
The mind controlled car in transit
Image credit: nankai university.

Limitation
Training your brain to be able to emit electrical impulses or signals a car can understand is just as hard as it sounds if you are not a “natural”, it could take months or even a year to get used to this new driving mechanism. The instructions are binary – there’s no way to make a slight left, or a slight right. Nor is there a way to control the speed moving forward. You also need to maintain total focus and relaxation while driving. The technology is pretty much in its infant stages and comes with some technical loopholes. That’s why So far, nobody is ready to release mind controled or powered cars onto the roads just yet. Before that can happen, they need an easier system to use and more robust algorithms that can jump in when a driver gets distracted or confused.

However, i for one would prefer a MIND controlled ride over a “level 4” totally autonomous driverless car . Even though legions of scientists have made us belief that Artificial Intelligence based robotic self controlled cars would be a lot safer than human driven ones. I prefer to be a conservative, stick so damn well with my conservative ideology on this issue, because you never know when the robots controlling the presumably safe cars would get a little drunk, get apocalyptic and cause a “highway Armageddon” with you in the car. Driverless car is a cool idea to be fair , but getting involved in a car crash with a driverless car is most cetainly not so cool. With mind driven cars, the cars are actually not totally autonomous but semi-autonomous retaining vital elements of human control.Humans make split-second judgment calls in accidents everyday. But the human brain is a remarkable data-collection and computing system, even when it’s not at its best. While actual computers may react more quickly and more precisely, there are few, if any, vehicle-borne computer systems that can take in and interpret all the data a human can, and none that can present a self- informed case for a moral or ethical judgment.

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