World's first attention-powered car created by Australians

Credit: RAC

Pay attention! A car that runs on full capacity only when its driver is fully alert has just been released. The car, created by the Royal Automobile Club of Western Australia (WA), was created in the hopes of reducing the number of automobile accidents caused by inattentive drivers.

The car's attention measuring technology is described as "Star Wars-esque" on its official website, akin to using the "Force" while driving. Using a slightly dorky-looking neuro headset with 14 octopus-like sensor pads that measure brain activity, blink rate and eye movement, the car moves faster or slower in conjunction with how awake and alert you are. The Attention Powered Car (APC) will then use the information from the headset to decide how fast or slow to move. The less attentive the driver, the slower the car gets.

The headset was a collaborative effort with neuroengineering company Emotiv, which first used its EPOC headset to monitor a driver's brain activity to create a data model of inattention. A gyroscope was also integrated into the headset in order to sense whether or not the driver's head is in a proper driving position (sleepy head bobbers, beware!).

Though the APC does seem like a good idea, there are a few problems with the mechanism. For one thing, if the driver were to suddenly fall asleep or lose attentiveness in the middle of rush hour, slowing down might cause a major accident. There's also the impracticality of having to wear the headset at all times while driving, which can get inconvenient if you are in a rush.

Currently, the car is still in prototype mode and is being tested in Australia before being released. We think the car would be perfect for first time drivers to help them build confidence on the road.