TOKYO — The world's biggest automakers and technology companies are spending billions of dollars to perfect your ability to drive without thinking. Nissan is taking a different direction — trying to "decode" your thinking so hands-on driving is more fun.
The Japanese company will unveil and test its "brain-to-vehicle" technology at next week's CES technology expo in Las Vegas. The "B2V" system requires a driver to wear a skullcap that measures brain wave activity and transmits its readings to steering, acceleration and braking systems that can start responding before the driver initiates the action.
The driver still turns the wheel or hits the acceleration pedal, but the car anticipates those movements and begins the actions 0.2 seconds to 0.5 seconds sooner, said Lucian Gheorghe, a senior innovation researcher at Nissan overseeing the project. The earlier response should be imperceptible to drivers, he said.
"We imagine a future where manual driving is still a value of society," said Gheorghe, 40, who earned a doctorate in applied neural technology. "Driving pleasure is something as humans we should not lose."
Automakers are working on ways to keep driving relevant as newcomers such as Waymo and Apple try to upend the industry with fully autonomous technologies. IHS Markit expects 21 million autonomous vehicles to be sold annually by 2035 — equivalent to about a quarter of all current vehicle sales.