Everyone that drives a vehicle uses their brain to safely navigate the streets and highways of the world. However, our brains control arms and legs to physically manoeuvre the vehicle. What if you could forego the appendages altogether and just think your way to the store?
Admittedly, that's an exaggerated take regarding this very odd, intriguing patent application recently released by Ford. The patent title sounds like pure science fiction: Chassis input intention prediction via brain machine interface and driver monitoring sensor fusion. The first sentence in the Claims section goes even further down the rabbit hole, specifically saying this is "a method for controlling a vehicle using a Brain Machine Interface (BMI) device... ." Before you envision a future of motionless zombies destroying humanity using telepathically controlled Mustangs, know that the tech isn't nearly that extreme.
In short, the patent proposes monitoring brainwave activity to help vehicle systems predict what a driver is about to do. For example, it can recognise brainwave activity associated with hand and arm muscles flexing to turn the steering wheel. Detecting those brainwaves before the movement occurs, the interface signals the car to take appropriate measures to prepare for a turn. It's not unlike active steering or suspension systems making hundreds of adjustments per second based on real-time data. It's just that this data would be slightly ahead of time.
How does this work exactly? We aren't in-depth tech pros by any stretch of the imagination, but from what we see in the patent, it involves lots of computers, sensors, integration of driver-assist systems, and the driver wearing some kind of neural interface pad on their noggin. The patent description outlines all kinds of parameters for functionality, primarily referencing data acquisition systems, neural systems, training systems, and possibly calculations for balancing the space-time continuum. The takeaway is this proposed system would work as an enhancement to the physical act of driving, not replacing it entirely.
Whether such a thing ever becomes reality is likely a question that won't be answered anytime soon. If we do have neural connections to cars someday, just make sure you don't stare too long at the adorable dog on the sidewalk. You wouldn't want the car to misinterpret your thoughts.