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This Is Your Brain On Electrodes: Nissan’s ‘B2V’ Driver-Skill Amplifier

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LAS VEGAS — Nissan is prototyping a skullcap or headset that reads a driver’s brain waves. The idea is to help the car anticipate the driver’s intentions a few fractions of a second before the driver would actually initiate a turn, change lanes, or step on the brakes. Nissan calls it B2V, or brain-to-vehicle, technology, after the fashion of V2V (vehicle to vehicle) or V2I (vehicle to infrastructure). Nissan unveiled B2V, and is running demos this week at CES 2018 here to showcase its possibilities.

Despite headlines you read elsewhere, B2V is not self-driving technology. Nor can it read you thoughts — only brain waves. It is a serious attempt by Nissan to make driving safer and quite possibly more enjoyable. It’s part of the broader Nissan Intelligent Mobility project that includes self-driving, assisted driving, and driver assists such as blind spot detection or adaptive cruise control.

B2V Tells the Car What You Plan Next

Dr. Lucian Gheorghe.

Dr. Lucian Gheorghe, senior innovation researcher at the Nissan Research Center in Japan, leads the B2V research. “The potential applications of the technology are incredible,” he says. As for the research, the test driver wears a device that looks like a skullcap or headset, with wiring leads coming off the back. The cap measures brain wave activity. It can pick up waves that repeat themselves each time the driver encounters a given situation. It can both detect and predict.

Gheorghe says the system catches signs that the driver’s brain is about to, say, press the throttle, step on the brakes, or turn the steering wheel. Knowing what’s coming next from the driver, the car could help in a subtle way…

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