German researchers have used drivers' brain signals, for the first time, to assist in braking, providing much quicker reaction times and a potential solution to the thousands of car accidents that are caused by human error.
Using electroencephalography (EEG) a technique that attaches electrodes to the scalp , the researchers demonstrated that the mind-reading system, accompanied with modern traffic sensors, could detect a driver's intention to break 130 milliseconds faster than a normal brake pedal response.
Driving at 100km/h, this amounts to reducing the braking distance by 3.66 meters - the full length of a compact car or the potential margin between causing and avoiding accidents.
The study, published today, 29 July 2011, in IOP Publishing's Journal of Neural Engineering, identified the parts of the brain that are most active when braking and used a driving simulator to demonstrate the viability of mind-reading assisted driving.
A detailed video of one of the subjects driving the simulator can be seen here.
As well as EEG, the researchers, from the Berlin Institute for Technology, also chose to examine myoelectric (EMG) activity which is caused by muscle tension in the lower leg and can be used to detect leg motion before it actually moves to the brake pedal.
Whilst sat among conventional driving controls, the study's 18 participants were asked to drive a car that was displayed on a screen in front of them whilst a series of electrodes were attached to their scalp to measure brain activity.
They were asked to stay within a 20 metre distance of a computer-controlled lead vehicle along a road that contained sharp curves and dense oncoming traffic, to recreate real driving conditions, whilst maintaining a speed of 100km/h.
At random intervals, emergency braking situations were triggered by the rapid braking of the lead vehi
|Contact: Michael Bishop|
Institute of Physics