Nissan and EPFL team up to develop vehicle interfaces of the future
Modern automobiles have electronics to help us steer and drive safer while being capable to achieve higher speed. Nissan is collaborating with researchers from the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL) in order to develop a system which could assist drivers in future by combining Brain Machine Interface (BMI) readings with data gathered by other sensors.
“The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment”, said project leader José del R. Millán, Associate Professor at the EPFL’s Defitech Foundation Chair in Non-Invasive Brain-Machine Interface.
Although there are many breakthroughs regarding efficiency and size of BMI equipment, the levels of concentration needed for accurate readings are exceptionally high. Brain Machine Interface (BMI) systems developed at the EPFL already allows disabled users to maneuver their wheelchairs by thought, and the collaboration between Nissan and EPFL is taking this research a step further by using statistical analysis to predict driver’s intentions and to evaluate a driver’s cognitive state relevant to the driving environment.
“Brain wave analysis has helped me understand driver burden in order to reduce driver stress. During our collaboration with EPFL, I believe we will not only be able to contribute to the scientific community but we will also find engineering solutions that will bring us close to providing easy access to personal mobility for everyone”, said Lucian Gheorghe, researcher from the Nissan’s Mobility Research Center.
By combining information from brain activity measurement, eye movement patterns and sensors on the vehicle, it should be possible to predict what the driver plans to do. For example, as the driver thinks about turning left ahead the car will prepare itself for the maneuver by selecting the correct speed and road positioning.
“As part of our recently announced six year plan – Nissan Power 88 – we are focusing on new technologies. We have already developed a number of advanced safety systems for our cars – such as Intelligent Cruise Control, Distance Control Assist or Moving Object Detection, all systems that constantly scan the environment around the car – and the research being undertaken by EPFL complements this perfectly”, said Christopher Benardis, GM Product Economic and Control, Business Development & OC-E Office at NISSAN International SA.
In time they manage to make this viable in reality cars will already be driving themselves.
Also, what if I think about something totally irrelevant to my driving (as most of do on longer journeys)?
I don’t think the system is meant to react to your every though, just assist in your driving by combining all the gathered information.