If you’ve ever had dreams of moving (quite large, very attractive) objects with your mind, you’re in luck. Renault recently broke new ground when they unleashed an experimental model that allowed drivers to control the vehicles with their thoughts. No kidding! The Renault research team have been hard at work trying to provide the means to solve this global teenage dream, and they seem to have cracked it, at least to a certain extent.
To be fair, you wouldn’t be able to operate this particular model all by yourself. The Kadjar SUV that the Renault team modified to be operated by EEG (emotiv electroencephalography) headsets required a team of three drivers working in tandem. Three athletes donned the headsets and ‘drove’ the vehicle in collaboration. Here’s how it worked: one had to concentrate of left turns, the other on right turns and the final participant on acceleration. Working together, they were then able to keep the car under control.
However, it has to be noted that these three athletes were uniquely qualified to tackle this immense mental challenge. They are in the process of competing in a year-long four-legged race in Sweden, which requires tandem thinking already, and Renault hooked them up with a mental training coach. Once they were sufficiently aligned, simulated trail runs were conducted, which promptly resulted in the simulation vehicle being crashed (little surprise there!). Once the process was fine-tuned some more, the athletes were finally hooked up to the EEG setup of the actual Kadjar, which was fitted with a system that turns the intangible element of thought into an actual, physical force. This included a series of levers that controlled the steering wheel and driving pedals.
At this point, it is imperative to note that this mind-controlled vehicle is still very much a prototype and that the public display thereof was actually little more than a celebration of a successful lab experiment. There are many, many obstacles in the way of the ultimate launch of a fully mind-controlled vehicle, not least of which is the substantial impact of elements such as distraction and simultaneous thought tethering.
However, the fact that the project has not been fully resolved does not detract from the immensity of Renault’s achievement thus far. Factoring brain waves and impulses into physical implementation is a vastly complicated endeavor and the fact that it is within reach in our lifetime points towards the ingenuity of the Renault development team.