In-car safety and technology systems have got pretty advanced recently. You can buy cars that adjust their speed according to traffic on the freeway, brake to avoid pedestrians and warn you when you're drifting in your lane. They can brake harder in emergencies and help wake you if you appear to be drifting off.
They're all reactive rather than proactive technologies though, which is where Nissan's research, in collaboration with the École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland (EPFL) comes in.
Nissans of the future may be able to prepare themselves for driving conditons before you even react to a situation yourself. By scanning your thoughts, it can prepare the suspension for a maneuver, or prime the brakes before you press the pedal to slow down.
The motivation behind the tech is that it will aid road safety while ensuring drivers still have personal freedom. "The idea is to blend driver and vehicle intelligence together in such a way that eliminates conflicts between them, leading to a safer motoring environment.", explains Professor José del R. Millán, leading the project.
Current thought control technology requires extreme concentration from an individual to control an electronic device. Nissan is hoping that its research will help develop a more passive system that allows you to concentrate on the road while the car reads your thoughts.
You can watch a video of the technology, testing with a wheelchair, below:
It certainly paints a less bleak future for driving enthusiasts than a future of fully autonomous cars, yet could still make a real contribution to road safety.
It also has potential uses beyond making mechanical adjustments to the car, such as choosing a destination on the satnav or adjusting the seat to a more comfortable position without needing to lift a finger.
However, we do wonder how far the technology can go... maybe it'll help pull you to the side of the road if you think about texting while driving, or give you a jab in the kidneys if you daydream at an intersection...