Mercedes-Benz is developing technology that will allow us to control cars with our thoughts one day. Furthermore, no implants will be required; instead, a small device will be placed at the back of your head. According to a company press release, a glimpse of this future will be displayed at the IAA Mobility 2021 in Munich.
Inside automobiles, technology has rapidly progressed from analog dashboards to large digital displays and controls that are now common in electric vehicles. Controls have been moved away from the dashboard and onto the steering wheel to reduce distractions, and will likely disappear as digital assistants take control of the car’s electronics. While shouting instructions to the dashboard is becoming more common, Mercedes-Benz envisions a future in which this is no longer necessary. Intuitively, the car will do whatever you are thinking by reading your brain waves.
To accomplish this, the company has created a brain-computer interface (BCI) device. The device, which is made up of electrodes, will be placed at the back of the user’s head and will begin reading their brain waves after about a minute of calibration, according to the company. Mercedes will demonstrate visual perception-based mind control at the IAA Mobility expo to showcase its progress.
A digital dashboard will show a number of dots, each of which is labeled with a different function. After putting on the BCI device, the user only needs to concentrate on the dot. Increased focus causes an increase in neuronal activity in the brain, which is recorded by the device, which then activates the specific function assigned to the dot. Mercedes will not be displaying car control functions such as answering a phone call or skipping tracks at the expo, but will instead allow users to grow plants, generate wind, or turn day into night.
The technology is being integrated into the Mercedes Vision AVTR concept car, which was unveiled last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas. This Advanced Vehicle TRansformation (AVTR), inspired by the futuristic film AVATAR, is Team Mercedes’ vision for future mobility. The company intends to use compostable battery technology,’vegan’ leather for its interiors, and an organic plastic replacement. The steering wheel has been replaced by a central control console that activates when a hand is placed on it and recognizes the driver based on their heart rate.
The company is working towards “the future of mobility in which man, nature, and technology are in harmony with each other” with the Vision AVTR and BCI technology. While this may be in the distant future, the all-electric Maybach EQS, which carries the legacy and luxury associated with the brand but is powered by an all-new electric drivetrain, will be available in the near future.