Nissan gets in driver's brain to improve efficiency

Brain-decoding technology lets vehicles interpret driver's brain signals

Published: January 7, 2018, 9:30 PM
Updated: November 21, 2021, 3:04 PM

Nissan Brain to Vehicle technology

Autonomous driving is going to bring about various ways of communicating between road users (Vehicle to Vehicle or V2V), and between them and their environment (vehicle to infrastructure or V2I), and now Nissan has a new one B2V — Brain to Vehicle.

The company has unveiled research that will allow vehicles to interpret signals from the driver’s brain, which in the short term will have vehicles adapting to a driver’s driving style and speed up reaction times to certain tasks, but in the long-run will also let vehicles react to those situations based on what it has learned from its driver.

“When most people think about autonomous driving, they have a very impersonal vision of the future, where humans relinquish control to the machines,” explained Nissan Executive Vice President Daniele Schillaci. “Yet B2V technology does the opposite, by using signals from their own brain to make the drive even more exciting and enjoyable.”

Nissan’s research used brain-decoding technology to predict a driver’s action, such as turning the steering wheel or depressing the brake pedal, which would allow driving aids to begin an action sooner, improving reaction times. It can also help the car react to uneasiness in the driver, such as tedium in routine driving or physical discomfort, and adjust to make the situation more comfortable, such as pick a more stimulating route or change the cabin ambience.

Artificial Intelligence and Augmented Reality will, naturally, play a big part in the implementation of the research.

The first of its kind, the technology requires the driver to wear a device that measures brain activity, which is then quickly analyzed by onboard autonomous systems to enact the appropriate action. For example, although imperceptible, turning the steering wheel or applying the brakes would happen 0.2 to 0.5 seconds faster than the driver is capable of achieving without the technology.

“The potential applications of the technology are incredible,” said Dr. Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher, who’s leading the B2V research at the Nissan Research Center in Japan. “This research will be a catalyst for more Nissan innovation inside our vehicles in the years to come.”

The system will be displayed at CES 2018 in Las Vegas using a driving simulator, with Gheorghe on hand to answer questions.