Hands-off, minds-on
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Autonomous driving has been portrayed as a very hands-off, computer-led concept. Most manufacturers use pictures of people reading the newspaper or scrolling through their phone, in cabins with no steering wheel or pedals, whenever a new self-driving concept is released.

A new idea from Nissan, set to debut at CES 2018, takes a very different approach. It isn't quite hands-on, but instead more of a 'brains-on' way to interact with the car.

The novel Brain-to-Vehicle system, or B2V, is designed to help self-driving vehicles adapt to the 'driver' and how they're feeling, using a "brain decoding technology" to recognise discomfort from the person wearing the funky B2V helmet.

When paired with human-driven vehicles, the company says the system can tell when a driver is about to make a move – pushing a pedal or turning the steering wheel – and prepares the onboard driver-assist tech for action.

In autonomous vehicles, the system is designed to sense when the passenger is uncomfortable and adapt the car's driving style. What that looks like, and whether impatient drivers will be able to make their cars go faster by thinking angry thoughts, remains to be seen.

The system requires a brain wave-monitoring headset, and feeds the information it gathers back to the self-driving systems on board the car.

"When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines. Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable," said Nissan executive vice president, Daniele Schillaci.

Nissan will be offering limited demonstrations of the tech at CES 2018, which kicks off this weekend.