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New car technology can read your mind while you're driving

Nissan is developing technology that allows a car to anticipate the next move a driver will make. The technology works through a skullcap worn by a driver. (Chombosan/Getty Images)

Nissan Motor Co. has developed new “brain-to-vehicle” technology that essentially allows a car to read your mind.

How does this work?

Drivers will wear a skullcap that “measures brain-wave activity and transmits its readings to steering, acceleration and braking systems that can start responding before the driver initiates the action,” according to Bloomberg News.

Under the "B2V" system, the car anticipates when a driver is about to hit the gas pedal or turn the wheel. The car then begins the driver’s anticipated action about 0.2 seconds to 0.5 seconds sooner, Lucian Gheorghe, a senior innovation researcher at Nissan, told Bloomberg News. Drivers will not be able to notice what the car is doing, he added.

“It’s not about reading thoughts,” said Gheorghe, who holds a doctorate in applied neural technology. “But before you move your body, we know you will move.”

The prototype for the skullcap has wires coming out of its top and resembles caps worn for medical testing or gaming.

When is this technology available?

Nissan is unveiling the new technology during a Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas next week. The system will be included in Nissan's fully autonomous cars, which should be ready in 5 to 10 years. The cars will also allow drivers to take manual control of the car by flipping a switch. While in manual mode, the brain-to-vehicle system kicks in.

In addition to anticipating drivers' moves, the skullcap could detect drivers' preferences and levels of discomfort while the vehicle is in autonomous mode and make adjustments accordingly, Bloomberg reported.

Why are carmakers doing this?

Billions of dollars are being spent as carmakers and technology companies compete to develop the latest autonomous car technology. Nissan’s approach is different than fully autonomous car technology being developed by Alphabet Inc.’s Waymo and Apple Inc., Bloomberg reported. The primary difference is that fully autonomous cars drive themselves, with little to no driver input.

Is this a growing trend?

According to IHS Markit, about 21 million autonomous vehicles are expected to be sold by 2035. That’s about one-quarter of all current vehicle sales, Bloomberg reported. Nearly 76 million vehicles with “some level of autonomy” are expected to be sold between now and 2035.

The following video shows the technology in action:

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