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by Tim Beissmann

If a group of Nissan engineers in Europe are successful, the cars of the future could be driven solely by the power of our minds.

Collaborating with researchers at the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland, Nissan developers are working on Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology, which could one day allow drivers to accelerate, brake and steer their car just by thinking about it.

BMI technology works by scanning the thought patterns of the driver and predicting their next move. When a driver thinks about turning, the car will prepare itself for the manoeuvre, select the optimal speed and road position and complete the turn.

Nissan says the aim is to ensure the roads of the future are as safe as possible and that freedom of personal mobility remains an integral part of society.

The engineers and researchers are currently trialling the technology with wheelchairs, and project leader, Prof José del R. Millán, said the next stage was to adapt BMI to cars and drivers.

“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,” he said.

BMI relies on a number of inputs, including brain activity, eye-movement patterns and the vehicle’s sensors to track environment around the car.

In these early stages of development, the engineers admit controlling a car with your mind takes exceptionally high levels of concentration. As the video shows, even PhD students with completely shaved heads connected to 1000 wires move in rather twitchy motions.

But it’s certainly a good start, and potentially a glimpse into the future of motoring. What do you think? Is this the way we will all be driving in 50 or 100 years’ time? Let us know your thoughts (either by mind control or physically using your fingers to type on the keyboard) in the comments section below.