Nissan brain-to-vehicle technology: What if cars could read your mind?

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According to a recent Bloomberg news report, speeding causes almost 67% of road accidents in India. There are other reasons for mishaps on Indian roads—human error, potholes and manufacturing defects in vehicles—but speeding is a problem on an entirely different level.

Most speeding cases are the result of negligence, with the driver unable to brake in time. Autonomous driving (AD), and the advent of smart, connected cars, is expected to fix this. Now, Japanese car-maker Nissan has unveiled a new brain-to-vehicle (B2V) technology that will enable autonomous cars to learn from the human brain and make the driving experience smoother.

According to an official release, the technology, which was demonstrated at the recently concluded CES 2018 in Las Vegas, the annual trade show that focuses on the latest in consumer electronics, is the outcome of brain-decoding technology used to predict a driver’s actions.

For this, researchers at Nissan Intelligent Mobility (the company’s division on vehicle intelligence and autonomous drive, AD, technologies) are decoding motor cortex activity in real time, which means they can predict a driver’s movement timing. The driver wears a headset-like device that measures brain wave activity, which is then analysed by autonomous systems.

Lucian Gheorghe explains how the autonomous system in the vehicle will able to take actions—such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car

In an official demonstration video by Nissan, Lucian Gheorghe, a senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Center in Japan explains how the B2V technology works. “Our systems will be able to tell an autonomous vehicle that the driver will be steering in the next 300 milliseconds. We can use this window to enhance the execution…synchronizing the support of the AD with your own actions,” says Gheorghe, who is leading the B2V research.

Gheorghe explains how the autonomous system in the vehicle will able to take actions—such as turning the steering wheel or slowing the car—0.2 to 0.5 seconds faster than the driver, while remaining “largely imperceptible”. The technology will also be able to detect and evaluate driver discomfort, and will accordingly change the driving configuration or driving style when the vehicle is in autonomous mode.

“Looking at drivers and the data we have collected, there are two ways to look at this. One is the ability to anticipate and then there’s the reaction time. Anticipation is what really helps prevent accidents. We have seen drivers with good reaction applying the brakes on time, but the driver behind them might not be so swift, and the accident still happens. So with this technology, I would look more towards its ability to anticipate rather than the (ability to improve) reaction time. It’s an interesting concept, but we’ve to wait and see its practical applications,” says Sagar Apte, chief executive officer and founder of Pune-based CarIQ, which provides drivers a connected car platform to understand their vehicles better. With the help of a plug-like device that fits into a car’s on-board diagnostics (OBD) port, CarIQ connects your car to the internet, giving access to vehicle data, location and advanced analytics.

Most speeding cases are the result of negligence, with the driver unable to brake in time.

It is important to note that the B2V technology, which is still in the concept stage, will be a part of autonomous vehicles, so it is still far from Indian roads—we are still scratching the surface of electric vehicles.

“I think autonomous vehicles are misunderstood to a large extent. Even from a developed market’s point of view, there are only certain sections of the road where autonomous could work more flawlessly, and there will be certain portions where people will have to adopt the assisted-driving mode. Will India have assisted driving? Absolutely. But how much time it takes for it to become affordable for everyone is a different question,” says Apte.livemint