Our previous two posts have concerned a new automobile industry innovation called BrainDriver. BrainDriver-the collaborative invention of a San Francisco technology company and a team of German researchers-allows a driver to fully operate a car using only their mind. We’ve discussed how the device works and the potential benefits it could provide for victims of paralysis or amputations, but many people believe that this exciting innovation could also prove quite dangerous.
Consumers must ask themselves, how reliable is this new technology? After all, no one can completely control their every thought at all times; how will emotions or distractions affect the ability of a driver to control their vehicle? What if a single preoccupied moment could lead a driver’s car to unexpectedly turn or accelerate, therefore causing an accident?
Furthermore, how will courts determine liability in injury cases involving brain-powered cars? If a BrainDriver operated vehicle causes a serious accident, can the driver be held accountable for inadequate thought control or are the developers’ to blame for producing the technology?
Another question is whether such technology would exasperate some of the bad driving habits which are already known to cause car accidents. For example, how would BrainDriver technology react if used by a distracted businesswoman responding to work emails on her smartphone while behind the wheel? Moreover, what if a BrainDriver owner attempted to drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol? Would technology entirely dependent on the driver’s ability to focus and send clear thought commands to their vehicle’s system make impaired driving an even more serious problem than it already is?
These are all questions that Emotiv, BrainDriver’s German research team, and other pioneers working with human-computer interfaces will need to consider carefully. Would you feel comfortable driving a car with only your thoughts? Would you allow your sons or daughters to drive such a car? How about an elderly relative? Would you feel safe knowing that your fellow commuters may be operating brainpowered cars? Please feel free to tell us your thoughts.
Source: IEEE Spectrum, “BrainDriver: A Mind Controlled Car.” Markus Waibel, 17 February 2011