Car accidents in Louisiana may eventually be stopped by the brain

When you drive down Interstate 10 or Interstate 210 in Lake Charles, it can be a fine idea to be a defensive driver in order to avoid an automobile accident. One tactic that some people use as a defensive driving tactic is to switch their foot from their accelerator to their brake as they approach busy traffic. The time it takes to switch between accelerator and brake can sometimes be the difference between a car accident and a near-miss. One group of researchers in Germany has taken that idea one step further.

The group of researchers has conducted an experiment where participants drove in a car simulator but used their brains to slow the car. In the experiment, eighteen test drivers wore caps with EEG sensors. The researchers were able to determine the brain waves that corresponded to the drivers’ wish to use the brakes. During the experiment if the drivers wanted to slow down they would just think the thought to slow down.

From the experiment, researchers were able to show the simulated cars slowed down faster when drivers thought the idea to slow down in comparison to using their feet to press the brake. On average the difference in time between brain waves and using the brakes was 130 milliseconds. Even though dozens of milliseconds may not seem like much. The small amount of time can mean the difference between a car accident and a racing heart.

A car traveling at 62 miles per hour or 100 kilometers per hour needs 12 to 15 fewer feet to stop if the brakes are applied 130 milliseconds earlier. The technology is not ready to be commercially used but proves the idea that a driver’s thought can be captured and applied before any physical manifestation of the thought is observed.

Source: ABC News, “Mind over matter: Braking your car with brain waves,” Ned Potter, July 29, 2011

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