Nissan brain-to-vehicle technology helps cars learn from drivers

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Technology developed at Nissan in Japan which gathers and processes signals from a driver’s brain, could be used to speed up reaction times, improve driver comfort, and even pave the way to a more personalised form of autonomous driving, the company claims.

The B2V technology monitors a driver's brain signals in real time

Developed through the car giant’s "Intelligent Mobility" programme, the so-called Brain-to-Vehicle (B2V) technology, which will be demonstrated at this month’s CES event in Las Vegas, draws on recent advances in neuroscience and is claimed to be the first real-time brain monitoring system of its kind for automotive applications.

Consisting of a wearable device that measures brain wave activity and specially-designed algorithms for analysing this data, the technology is able both predict a driver’s actions and detect signs of discomfort, Nissan claims.

For example, by catching signs that the driver’s brain is about to initiate a movement, such as turning the steering wheel or pushing the accelerator pedal, the technology can be used to enhance and speed up the the performance of driver assistance technologies. “It will be able to tell an autonomous vehicle the driver will be steering in the next 300 miliseconds,” explained Dr. Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Center in Japan, who is leading the B2V research. “We can use this window to enhance the execution. By synchronising the support of the AD (autonomous driving) with your own actions you will always feel that you are in control and driving perfectly,” he added.

Meanwhile, by detecting and evaluating driver discomfort, artificial intelligence can change the driving configuration or driving style when in autonomous mode. “The potential applications of the technology are incredible,” said Gheorghe. “This research will be a catalyst for more Nissan innovation inside our vehicles in the years to come.”

Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci added that the technology could pave the way for a more personalised take on the driverless car. “When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines,” he said. “Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable.”