Who needs self-driving cars when you can control them with your mind instead?
Later this year, Tesla is expanding its Full Self-Driving beta, meaning you'll soon see self-driving Tesla Model S, Model 3, Model X, and Model Y cars roaming the streets. But what if the system could read your mind to take over control of the car and drive you to your destination with just a thought?
It sounds like something from a science fiction movie, but a patent filing suggests Honda is actually working on futuristic mind-reading technology. Submitted to the US Patent Office, the patent describes a "brain-machine interface" that can detect brain waves, understand the user's intentions, and control the vehicle accordingly. For example, diagrams submitted as part of the patent show how a motorcyclist could use the tech to perform a stoppie and wheelie on command.
Normally, these stunts require a lot of skill and experience to pull off and could easily go wrong, but the technology will assist the rider by taking control of the bike after sensing brain waves that "may be indicative of the user's intent to perform the wheelie."
Once the bike is under control, the patent goes on to describe how "the throttle may be increased to cross a threshold value and immediately clutches may be pulled to disengage transmission gears. Further, as engine revolution increases, the clutches may be immediately released by a certain amount (e.g., "80 percent") while the throttle is controlled. This may pull the front wheel to lift up while the rear wheel stays on the ground."
Electrodes built into the helmet detect the rider's brain waves, which are then sent to the brain-machine interface computer that controls the bike. While the patent images only demonstrate how this could help a motorcycle rider do a wheelie or stoppie, it also says the technology could be applied to four-wheel vehicles. Potentially, this means it could be used as a high-speed track training tool for high-performance models such as the Honda Civic Type R to help prevent an inexperienced driver from crashing.
Furthermore, the patent describes how the brain-machine interface could adapt to a driver's skill level and reduce the electronic assists as they gain more experience. It could also improve road safety by monitoring when the driver is about to brake, steer, or accelerate. Of course, the patent doesn't guarantee the technology will be developed, but it shows how Honda envisions driver assists evolving in the future.