Nissan Motor Co. is working with Swiss scientists on mind-reading technology for future-generation cars.
The hope is that somehow a driver's brain waves can be tapped -- noninvasively -- to shorten the time lag between thought and vehicle response. The advanced work is investigative in nature, according to a Nissan statement.
"The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment," says Jose del R. Millan, a professor at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Lausanne, Switzerland, who is leading the project.
A photo released by Nissan shows a research assistant with wires attached to her head as she takes part in a virtual driving experiment. But the technology would be more complicated than simply hooking up the brain to a vehicle's steering system.
The research is looking into how to track thought processes -- via brain energy activity and eye-movement patterns, for example -- while simultaneously monitoring activity inside and outside the vehicle. The concept would then use advanced statistical analysis to predict what the driver intends to do, such as changing lanes or passing a slower vehicle. The vehicle could then execute the driver's thought.
Nissan said the work is part of the increased emphasis on new technology called for in the company's new "Nissan Power 88" six-year business plan.