Could You Drive A Car With Mind Control?

Mon 14th Mar 2022

In the year that the UK government will introduce legislation which allows for limited automated driving functionality, one of the world’s biggest motor companies is looking at ways for our cars to read our minds.

So-called ALKS technology will be allowed on British roads later this year, with drivers not required to monitor the road or keep their hands on the wheel in limited circumstances. But keeping your hands on the wheel might be a thing of the past altogether if Ford’s latest patented technology gets introduced to the Fiesta of the future.

The US motoring giant have registered a patent this month which shows how in the future we could be driving our car with our mind, by using something called a ‘brain machine interface’. While the technology may seem more science-fiction than fact, the concept is fairly well known, by monitoring brain activity it is hoped that the vehicle can predict what a driver is about to do. Scientists have long understood which parts of the brain are responsible for hand and arm movements, and by analysing those areas it is thought that the vehicle can recognise the signs before the movement occurs. By plugging our brains into the car’s computer, it is thought we can better help the vehicle understand our actions and predict issues and impacts.

"[In this design the BMI] would be integrated into a headrest,” the Ford patent application reads.

"BMI is a technology that enables humans to provide commands to computers using human brain activity ... [this] provides control input by interfacing an electrode array with the motor cortex region of the brain and decoding the activity [to translate] neuron firing patterns in the user's brain into discrete vehicle control commands.

"Recent advancements in BMI technology have contemplated aspects of vehicle control using BMIs. On aspect of such vehicle control includes driver intention determination for calibrating driver assistance responsiveness."

Ford have yet to report if they have adapted the technology into any of their vehicles, and there is no guarantee that the technology will ever see the light of day, particularly in an era when cars being plugged into a wider network of thinking-vehicles seems to take human error out of the equation altogether.