One of the major issues relating to vehicle safety is reaction time; how fast can you react to an event on the road, how long do you have to react, and is that enough time to make an informed decision? It’s part of the reason that distractions like cell phones are considered so unsafe – because they shorten the time you have to make smart decisions on the road.
Now, Nissan is conducting research that could improve your driving reaction time not by eliminating distractions, but by making a direct connection between vehicle control and human thought.
The concept is in very early research stages and researchers are only exploring the possibility of reading human brain waves and translating those thoughts directly to a vehicle command – thereby eliminating the time spent sending messages to muscles used to turn a wheel or hit the brakes. The goal right now is not continuous mental control of your vehicle, but as a snap safety mechanism that can quickly read a human reaction and automatically send a command by judging brain waves and referencing them with advanced statistical data. It all sounds very impressive, but it makes one wonder what happens when the vehicle’s automatic prediction is wrong.
Right now Nissan’s research seems like something out of a Sci-fi Movie, but in a word where vehicles can parallel park automatically, and alert drivers that are seemingly distracted, the automotive industry is consistently inching towards a merging of vehicle intelligence and the mental state of the driver. How complete this merge will be and its effectiveness is yet to be seen. As for right now, nothing beats staying alert and driving defensively as the best way to have plenty of reaction time and stay safe with your own two hands.