Written by Giles Kirkland
As cutting-edge technology keeps going further in the car industry, real-time detection and brain activity analysis are among those developing at a pretty galloping pace.
In fact, this sort of technology might be mistaken for something out of a science fiction movie. Yet car manufacturer Nissan have made it their mission to apply this type of tech to improving driver performance and real-time autonomous drive personalisation in their vehicles.
The technology used by Nissan to achieve their mission is the first of its kind. The wearable device works by measuring the brain wave activity of drivers via the use of electroencephalography (EEG) technology. The collected data is then passed through a smart autonomous artificial intelligence system which analyses and turns it into information which can then be applied as actions within the vehicle.
Practically, EEG technology works by reading brainwave signals and matching them to previously defined guides to decipher what you are thinking. Recent tests at Toyohashi University of Technology in Japan saw the technology recognising the numbers zero to nine with a 90-percent accuracy using brain waves whilst uttering numbers.
This type of brainwave monitoring is at the forefront of much innovative technology, including Belfast company BrainWaveBank using electroencephalogram data in order to track cognitive fitness and spot early signs of dementia.
Using the device enables the anticipation of intended movements, known as movement-related cortical potential (MRCP). This allows the system to take actions between 0.2 and 0.5 seconds faster than the driver would of their own accord.
It also measures activity which highlights the gap between what the driver is comfortable with and what they are experiencing, known as error-related potentials. For example, if the car is taking a corner too fast it can adjust the speed accordingly, increasing comfort and safety.
The technological hardware used looks much like you might expect, with brainwave activity being measured via use of a skull cap.
Enhanced Driver Performance
One of the two key and immediate applications of this new technology is the brain led enhancement of driver performance, which ultimately help people to become better drivers.
This is done via the ability of prediction whilst the car is in manual driving mode. The technology identifies signs that the driver is about to undertake a movement such as accelerating or braking and prompts the car to react quicker.
By doing this, the brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology creates a smoother, safer and more enjoyable ride for the driver and passengers.
The small improvements in reaction times may seem trivial at 0.2 to 0.5 seconds. However, data shows that 90% of all road traffic accidents occur due to human error in some way, with a large element of that being marginally slower reaction times.
Real-Time Autonomous Drive Personalisation
B2V tech also facilitates a better ride in autonomous vehicles. By reading the drivers’ levels of discomfort, the built-in artificial intelligence can adjust the ride to match expectations and make the driver feel more at ease.
Take for example that the driver enjoys reaching some speed on long stretches, but feels more comfortable slowing down considerably on corners. After a short time, the B2V would pick up this expectation, learn from it and meet it in a safe and sustainable way.
Nissan also alludes to how this technology may be adapted for the future.
For example, Dr. Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Centre in Japan points out that combining B2V with the vehicles internal environment and augmented reality could make for a more enjoyable and relaxing journey.
It is undeniable that this technology is some way off becoming a widely applicable solution. However, the team at Nissan have released a statement highlighting that they expect to see a fully practical application in the next 5 to 10 years.
With an increasing public interest in autonomous vehicles, it is clear that comfort, safety, and practicality are important elements in the future of travel. This new B2V technology will allow us to take this to the next level, offering previously unprecedented levels of these aspects.