AutoNOMOS Labs project at the Freie University Berlin, Artificial Intelligence Group has demonstrated a proof of concept of semi-autonomous driving where a test subject was able to control a research vehicle strictly through the brain waves. They already tested vehicle controller interface using iPhone, iPad, and eye tracking systems. Now they are trying to control a research car using brain power.

Brain Controlled Car Drive-By-Wire System using Electroencephalogram (EEG) SensorsUsing a specially developed cap with sixteen electroencephalogram (EEG) sensors, the test subject provides input to the autonomous vehicle. The car is equipped with video cameras, radar and laser sensors that give the car a full three-dimensional view of the surroundings. The research team has been able to program the vehicle to accept brain commands of right, left, accelerate or decelerate from a test subject.

Neuro-signals are acquired using the commercial Emotiv EEG (electroencephalogram) tool. After a few rounds of mental training with the virtual objects in the software-toolkit, the bioelectric signals measured by the wireless neuroheadset are interpreted as patterns which are associated with directions. Once a pattern can be linked with a command a software interface sends these to the Drive-By-Wire System of the car which turns the messages into actuation like steering or acceleration.

The test-drives on the former airport in Berlin Tempelhof showed that there is only a slight delay between the intended command and the actual reaction of the car. The “BrainDriver” application is, of course, a demonstration and not roadworthy yet but on the long run, human-machine interfaces like this could bear huge potential in combination with autonomous driving. For example when it comes to decide which way you want to take on a crossroad while the autonomous cab drives you home.