Pikes Peak International Raceway
When the brain creates a thought, it also creates a brain wave. With training, a person can consistently replicate this brain wave, which allows it to be identified and then converted into a signal. This signal can then be read by a computer and converted into an electrical signal that will actuate a mechanical system.
When the brain creates a thought, an electrical signal or “electrical fingerprint” is generated by the brain, specific to the particular thought. An electrode placed strategically on the surface of the brain can capture brain electrical signals consistent with various thoughts, and sophisticated computer algorithms can be developed to recognize one or more of these “electrical fingerprints” or thoughts. The computer, after recognizing a particular thought, can then generate an electrical signal to actuate a mechanical system.
Our driver German Aldana Zuniga is a participant in the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine’s Miami Project to Cure Paralysis brain-machine interface program, and has an implanted brain electrode which can capture electrical signals from the brain. The scientists and engineering collaborators at The Miami Project and FAM have combined forces to be able to capture a specific thought or “electrical fingerprint” of German and feed this information into FAM’s computer interface which controls the drive mechanism of the racecar. In this first phase the project driver will be able to pull out of “pit row” and accelerate around the track using thought alone. Turns and braking will be executed with movement of the driver’s head through an in car camera and helmet system.
This Brain Machine Interface (BMI) technology has the potential to profoundly change the way that disabled individuals navigate their everyday lives. Practical applications could include the driving of an electric wheelchair or golf cart, control of a robotic arm or assistive eco-skeleton device, control of home and communication systems (lights,heating/AC,opening doors,phone,internet), and even implanted medical devices, all through thought alone.
In phase two of this project we will add “brain-control” of the steering and brake allowing for complete control of the drive mechanism with thought alone. We anticipate substantial portions of phase two to be completed next year. This type of technology will be an enormous advancement towards providing freedom and independence for critically injured individuals.