The car powered by your MIND: BMW i3 navigates a track using nothing but its driver's brain waves

Controlling cars with your mind may sound like something from a science fiction film but this futuristic idea has just become a reality.
Experts have modified a BMW i3 electric car so it can be driven remotely using just a person's thoughts.
And in a video demonstration, the car was navigated around a curved track by translating brain waves into driving commands. 

Experts have modified a BMW i3 electric car (pictured) so it can be driven remotely using just a person's thoughts. In a demonstration, the car was navigated around a track by translating brain waves into commands
Experts have modified a BMW i3 electric car (pictured) so it can be driven remotely using just a person's thoughts. In a demonstration, the car was navigated around a track by translating brain waves into commands

The car was developed by MoneySuperMarket for its Car Insurance Epic Mind Drive project. 
The team replaced the driver's seat of the BMW with a mechanical rig capable of pressing the pedals and turning the steering wheel on command.
A driver was then fitted with an electroencephalography (EEG) neuro headset to monitor their brain activity while being trained to remotely drive the car.
This training involved thinking left, thinking right, thinking about going forward and stopping. 
Instead of simply thinking about these actions and movements, however, such training typically involves associating a specific mental image with each command. 
For example, the software can be trained to associate a person thinking about a floating balloon with turning left. 
Each time the person thinks of the floating balloon their brain signals are the same, and it is these signals that are 'translated' into commands.



The car was developed by MoneySuperMarket for its Car Insurance Epic Mind Drive project. The team replaced the driver's seat of the BMW with a mechanical rig capable of pressing the pedals and turning the steering wheel on command (pictured)
The car was developed by MoneySuperMarket for its Car Insurance Epic Mind Drive project. The team replaced the driver's seat of the BMW with a mechanical rig capable of pressing the pedals and turning the steering wheel on command (pictured)

A driver was then fitted with an electroencephalography (EEG) neuro headset to monitor their brain activity while being trained to use remotely drive the car. This training involved getting into a 'neutral state' (pictured) before thinking left, thinking right, thinking about going forward and stopping 
A driver was then fitted with an electroencephalography (EEG) neuro headset to monitor their brain activity while being trained to use remotely drive the car. This training involved getting into a 'neutral state' (pictured) before thinking left, thinking right, thinking about going forward and stopping 

Once the bespoke software establishes each of the command's brain signals, it sends a radio frequency signal to the rig in the car. This rig then follows the instructions. 
And on 16 July, selected members of the public will be given the chance to test drive this technology.
MoneySuperMarket has also created the Epic Mind Drive mobile game that people can register to play. 
This game is controlled using facial recognition and gestures using their phone's camera. 
David Harling, Digital Marketing Director at MoneySuperMarket commented: 'Driverless cars are currently being road tested but until they're an everyday reality, we know it's as important as ever for motorists to use their heads while driving.' 

At this year's Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) and Australian-based Emotiv demonstrated a racing game that uses similar technology. 
A 'driver' was wired up to Emotiv's electroencephalography (EEG) headset and the device was trained to read their unique brain patterns. 
In this toy version, the first step involved training the headset to learn the wearer's 'neutral' state. This involved 'clearing their brain'.
They were then asked to think of a repetitive task that was to be associated with driving the car. 
Once the headset was trained, the game began. The wheels of an on-screen car began to spin to signal that the brain patterns were being recognised.
The wearer was then asked to think about their repetitive task, at which point the car began to move.

During the demonstration, these brain waves moved a car the size of a shoebox around a track and each race involved two players wired up to the headset.
The Emotive headsets are embedded with sensors that record electrical activity along the wearer's scalp, forehead and above the right ear.
These sensors measure and monitor brain waves and these patterns are converted to commands using a brain-computer interface.
The technology is currently a proof-of-concept and there are no immediate plans to release the game and headset.
However, the EPOC Emotiv headset is available from $499 (£324) and it will work with existing brain-computer interface games and software that work with EEG readings.

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