Mind-controlled car
Researcher Zhang Zhao wearing a brain signal-reading equipment prepares to move a car with his brain wave, during a demonstration at Nankai University in Tianjin, ChinaKim Kyung Hoon/Reuters

Researchers in China have developed a car that a driver can control with his or her mind. The car can be controlled by wearing a headgear that picks up the driver's brain signals, which a computer program sorts and analyses to figure out the driver's command to the car.

"The [brain signal-reading] equipment comprises 16 sensors that capture EEG [electroencephalogram] signals from the driver's brain. They developed a computer program that selects the relevant signals and translates them, enabling control of the car," researcher Zhang Zhao told Reuters.

"The core of the whole flow is to process the EEG signals, which is done on the computer," Zhang said. The EEG signals are wirelessly transmitted to the computer.

Nankai University researchers took two years to build the country's first mind-controlled car, which according to the report, can move forward, backwards, stop and lock and unlock without the driver ever using his or her limbs. However, at the moment the car can only drive in a straight direction.

Associate professor Duan Feng, from the university's College of Computer and Control Engineering, who led the project, said the "technology is aimed at better serving human beings".

He added: "Worries about potential road accidents caused by the driver being distracted while their brain was in control of his team's car were unfounded, because concentration was needed only when changing the vehicle's moving status, ie changing lanes or turning.

"Driverless cars' further development can bring more benefits to us, since we can better realise functions relating to brain controlling with the help of the driverless cars' platform."

Duan said the project was started with the aim to provide disabled people a way to drive a car without using their limbs, and secondly, to give healthy people a "new and more intellectualised driving mode".

The mind-controlled car was made in collaboration with Chinese car manufacturer Great Wall Motor. The researchers and the car company as of now have no plans to mass produce the car.