McLaren to deploy ‘mindreading’ technology at Indy 500

McLaren is teaming up with a tech startup called MindMaze to use neurotechnology during the forthcoming Indianapolis 500 in an effort to improve driver safety.

(Credit: Zach Catanzareti Photo via Flickr)

Switzerland-based MindMaze is best known for developing technology to help stroke victims rehabilitate their movement, using a combination of virtual reality, motion capture and electroencephalographic (EEG) scans. Since raising $100m in 2016, the company’s MindMotion ‘neurorehabilitation’ platform has received FDA (Food and Drug Administration) approval for medical use in the United States.

MindMaze’s collaboration with McLaren Racing – known as MindDrive – will see its brain-sensing technology transmitting neural signatures from driver Fernando Alonso to a track-side medical team in real-time in the event of an incident. According to MindMaze, the technology will also enable McLaren to gather data and insight on overall driver safety and performance. Alonso, who led the Indy 500 for 27 laps in 2017 before his engine failed later in the race, is chasing motorsport’s Triple Crown, having already won the Monaco Grand Prix and Le Mans 24 Hours. Graham Hill remains the only driver ever to have won all three landmark races.

“This is an exciting partnership for our Indy 500 programme,” said Bob Fernley, president of McLaren IndyCar. “We’ve admired MindMaze’s innovative approach to neuroscience for some time, and combined with McLaren’s expertise on track, and deep understanding of racers and their safety needs, this partnership has the potential to deliver a real step in the safety of the sport. We’re looking forward to getting started on our journey to the Indy 500 together.”

McLaren’s three previous wins at the Indy 500 all came in the 1970s, with the first win in 1972 as a privateer vehicle for Team Pinske. Ahead of this year’s race on May 26, MindMaze says it will test out the new MindRace technology extensively on track, sharing the data with McLaren as it chases Indycar glory once again.

“Working together with McLaren Racing, we have the opportunity to progress driver safety while capturing new performance data that can benefit motorsports as a whole,” said MindMaze founder Tej Tadi. “Brain Technology has immense implications in many aspects of daily life. We’re excited to develop MindDrive with McLaren Racing and employ it on track during testing as the team prepares for the Indy 500.”