AOL Cars tests mind-controlled car technology

Mind-controlled car
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Mind controlled cars were once the reserve of sci-fi films, but as technology has advanced, it is now possible to control a vehicle via thought process alone.

Car insurance comparison site MoneySuperMarket is campaigning to discourage drivers from driving mindlessly, and what better way than to use these mind-controlled cars themselves to highlight the issue.

AOL reporter Laura Thomson was invited along to check out their 'Epic Mind Drive' at a secret location in Hampshire.

I arrived at the location unsure what to expect. Dressed in dark clothing as had been suggested, I was surprised to find myself alongside two other motoring journalists in a brightly lit lobby.

A tour of the track soon reaffirmed the dress code. Lasers formed the outlines of the track, which was inside a large, dark hangar.

After the tour and introduction, brain training was first on the agenda. On a computer screen in front of me was a grey orb, which moved every time the EEG headset I was wearing registered increased activity in one brain lobe.

Knowing that the track consisted mostly of left hand turns; you can imagine my chagrin when it proved much easier to concentrate to the right. Eventually, my brains ability to concentrate to the left rose to 90 per cent and the scientists deemed me track-ready.

Seated upon a raised platform in the dark hanger, the car was visible on the track below. A technician commented that I'd have a tough act to follow as Countdown genius Carol Vorderman had just finished her mind driving experience – no pressure then.

Mind-controlled car
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AOL Cars tests mind-controlled car technology

On a screen in front of me was a live video feed out of the cars front window. I began by willing the car to go left, and was amazed to see it turn. However, by the time I had managed to bring the car to a stop, it had completed an almost 360-degree loop – it was not as easy as I had thought!

Further attempts to steer the car resulted similarly, and as it turned out, navigating a 1,200kg electric car with brainpower alone is actually quite difficult.

Eventually I managed to steer the car with less and less help from the safety back-up remote control, although I was thankful for the 5mph restriction on the car. Somehow, the car's unrestricted top speed of 93mph didn't sound safe under the control of my brain.

Whilst driving a car just by thinking is hard to imagine, the science behind the feat is remarkably simple - well, simple to explain.

The 'driver' wears a specialised EEG headset that measures electrical impulses coming from their brain. By concentrating strongly to either the left or the right, the headset registers the increased brain activity and transmits this to a robot in the driver's seat which performs the action of steering the car.

Want to have a go yourself? Register for the MoneySuperMarket Epic Mind Drive Experience for your chance.

Author: Laura Thomson
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