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It has existed in a science fiction world for over 100 years. The idea that you could use your brain to operate some mechanical function. That you could control almost any function without lifting a finger. Now, Mercedes is exploring brain-computer interface technology for cars.

Mercedes is trying to incorporate mind thought technology into its Vision AVTR concept vehicle

Mercedes Vision AVTR concept sketch
A Mercedes Vision AVTR concept | MB

This is a teaming of Mercedes and NextMind to develop the Vision AVTR, which was recently shown at the International Motor Show in Germany. The technology was available for attendees to try out. Attendees wore headbands that has electrodes recording brain activity. After establishing a connection between the person and the car, lights would light up tied to different functions.

A brain-computer interface or BFI connects your brain to your car, allowing you to control a myriad of things by thinking about them. It breaks down brain activity through electrical pulses your own brain releases every time you move or think. By turning those pulses into signals, the ECU receives them, translating them to form an operation. 

Electroencephalograms already do this. By recording brain activity an electroencephalogram can find nerve problems. A BCI takes it one step farther and takes those signals and converts them into computer commands.  

NextMind and Mercedes say this technology is the future of mobility

Mercedes Vision AVTR concept
Mercedes Vision AVTR concept | MB

“NextMind’s groundbreaking technology opens new possibilities for user interaction and engagement by instantly translating brain signals from the user’s visual cortex into computer commands,” Sid Kouider, NextMind founder and CEO told ZDNet. “The Vision AVTR (…) is exactly the right concept to test and further develop BCI applications,” said Markus Schäfer, the COO of Mercedes-Benz Cars. “This concept vehicle impressively depicts the future of mobility.” 

If this brain interfacing with technology sounds similar to Elon Musk’s Neuralink startup, it should. And we can’t help but notice that whether Mercedes, Volkswagen, or Porsche, the Germans are following Musk’s every move. Even today it was announced that Mercedes wants to build an EV that competes with Tesla’s upcoming roadster. 

“”Brain-computer interfaces are going to impact every aspect of our lives”

Mercedes Vision AVTR concept
Mercedes Vision AVTR concept | MB

And Volkswagen is making proclamations it will soon build more EVs than Tesla-like that is some sort of milestone. Which it is if you have your sights set on Tesla. “Brain-computer interfaces are going to impact every aspect of our lives and bring incredible benefits to improve our world. We are excited to be partnering with industry leaders like Mercedes-Benz to explore ways to turn these future possibilities into realities,” said NextMind’s Kouider. 

The storage of brain thoughts and hacking have raised some concerns. It opens up a whole Pandora’s box of both security and ethics issues. Hopefully, serious thought will be given to these concerns as well as the technology advances.


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