While Google and Tesla are hard at work developing cars that drive themselves, researchers at a university in China have created a unique system that enables a person to drive a car using mind control. Granted, it’s only possible to drive in a straight line using this technology – so far – but its developers are still working on it. The system reads brain waves and uses a computer program to ‘translate’ them into signals that tell a car what to do. It’s the next best thing to telekinesis, plus it can help get you where you need to go.


Two years ago, the team from Nankai University in Tianjin originally started to work on a mind-controlled car as an option for people with disabilities who can’t use their limbs to operate a vehicle. Although the processes that translate brain waves into automotive operations are pretty complicated, it’s fairly simple to describe. The driver dons a high-tech headset that contains 16 sensors that capture EEG (electroencephalogram) signals from the brain. Then, the signals are wirelessly transmitted to a computer (also in the car) that filters to identify the parts that are relevant to the car. The computer program translates the relevant portion of the signal into electronic commands for the car. The mind-controlled car, with its headset-wearing backseat driver, demonstrated the technology this past summer.

Related: Mind-controlled electric skateboard is steered by your brain signals

Mind control doesn’t only apply to driving directions, either. In addition to telepathically telling the car to move forward or backwards, the driver can also unlock the doors without lifting a finger or a foot.

So, on one side of the world, automotive geniuses are developing driverless cars and on the other side, mind control driving operations have emerged. Will there come a day when the two next-gen transportation technologies meet? Sure. Associate Professor Duan Feng, who led the study, believes there will come a time – in the somewhat distant future – that cars might be equipped with both driverless technology as well as mind control functionality. “Driverless cars’ further development can bring more benefits to us,” he said, “since we can better realize functions relating to brain [control] with the help of the driverless cars’ platform.”

Via Engadget and Reuters

Images via Nankai University