Forget Steering Wheels: This Mind-Control Car Could Make You A Jedi Master

Mind control — the ability to affect our surroundings or other individuals just by thinking — is a common human fantasy. From the honed telepathy skills of Professor Charles Xavier in X-Men to Master Yoda’s awesome X-Wing lifting Jedi abilities in Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, we’ve always dreamed of being able to control our world with just a thought.

Now a team of researchers in China are on the brink of turning that fantasy into reality with a car that you can control simply with your thoughts.

Forget voice control: you might end up controlling your car with your mind one day.

Forget voice control: you might end up controlling your car with your mind one day.

Enter Nankai University College of Computer and Control Engineering, and its latest project: an interface to link your brain waves to your car’s control systems. 

Using a specially-designed headband fitted with fourteen sensors, researchers are able to read the brain wave patterns from a series of volunteers and then translate those brain waves into a set of specific commands which can be sent to a car’s controller area network — or CAN bus.

Admittedly, the project is currently in its early stages of research and the researchers say they haven’t yet reached a stage where a full-size car can be driven down the road by thought alone. What the team has managed to successfully reproduce with a high deal of accuracy however, are basic ‘comfort’ related car functions, such as opening the trunk and folding in the rear view mirrors.

Ultimately however, the team of researchers say they will investigate the possibilities of mind-control for low-speed electric vehicles at a future part of the project, perhaps integrating human mind control with semi-autonomous car driving technology.

Here at Transport Evolved, we love the idea of further extending the car driving experience by adding some form of mind-control capabilities to fully-autonomous vehicles. Given the incredible challenges facing the researchers however, we think it will still be a while before we see any form of mind-control features in any production vehicle.

That said, the phenomenal leaps made in mind-control interfaces over the past decade have moved a mind-controlled car from the ‘impossible’ camp into the ‘plausible’ camp, even if it’s just for the purpose of supplementing a fully-fledged autonomous driving technology to give the car’s passengers control over heating, air conditioning and destination.

And if you’re thinking this is just a research project, think again: Professor Duan Fengfu from the Nankai University College of Computer and Control Engineering says the research project’s next phase will include collaboration with Chinese automaker Great Wall Motor, one of China’s largest automakers. 

Would you like to become one with the force and drive your car with the power of your mind, or do you think the whole thing is just science gone crazy? And would you trust yourself not to become distracted if you weren’t physically connected to your car’s controls?

Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.


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  • just someone old

    This is a bad idea! In summer I am just too distracted by the passing wildlife! :-)))))

    • CDspeed

      Oh look a deer, oh god we’re steering right for it!!!! : )

      • You’re right. As a biker, I was trained to never look at the curb when riding around a corner as it would most certainly result in hitting it. I was trained to look through the corner. With mind-control cars, the challenge would be keeping the focus to make sure your car kept its path true…

        • CDspeed

          You would have to be focused on the road, but that’s why automakers are adding systems like lane departure warning, collision warning with automatic breaking, and even autonomous driving. We are becoming increasingly distracted by our “smart” phones, and tablets. I think the only reason we’re seeing an increased interest in autonomous cars is because of the distracted driving trend. Autonomous cars seem more like a safety feature.

  • Rakesh Prajapat