Nissan's future cars may read your brain to improve reaction time

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Nissan announced Wednesday their research for enabling vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain, consequently introducing a whole new chapter in human-to-car interaction.

The multinational Japanese automobile manufacturer will demonstrate the range of the exclusive technology at the CES 2018 trade show Jan. 9-12 in Las Vegas.  Nissan is calling it Brain-to-Vehicle, or B2V, and the company promises the technology will speed up reaction times for drivers and make driving more enjoyable.

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable,” said Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci in a statement. “Through Nissan Intelligent Mobility, we are moving people to a better world by delivering more autonomy, more electrification and more connectivity.”

B2V is the latest development in the company’s move to transform how cars are driven, powered and integrated into society. The vision is identified as “Nissan Intelligent Mobility.” Researchers are making strides by using decoding technology to predict driver’s actions and detect discomfort. 

Predictions are made by identifying signs that the driver is preparing to initiate movement. The idea is that by identifying signs the action of the driver can be performed quicker and swifter. And for detecting, Nissan is saying artificial intelligence can change the driving style when the technology is in autonomous mode.  

Dr. Lucian Gheorghe is the leading innovation researcher for B2V at the Nissan Research Center in Japan and he says the new technology can potentially use augmented reality to modify what drivers see and generate a more “relaxing environment.”

“The potential applications of the technology are incredible,” Gheorghe said. “This research will be a catalyst for more Nissan innovation inside our vehicles in the years to come.”

B2V is the first of its kind. Anonymous systems analyze brain activity results that are gathered by drivers wearing a helmet like device. Reaction times – such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car – can see a 0.2 to 0.5 second increase as a result of this technology. 

Nissan will use a driving simulator to display some aspects of the technology at CES. Gheorge will be available to answer questions at booth 5431 in the Las Vegas Convention Center’s North Hall.