JLR says drivers can be distracted even when they seem to concentrate on driving (Photo: JLR)

Jaguar Land Rover is researching whether a car could capture a driver's brainwaves to identify whether he or she is distracted.

The research project, which is called "Mind Sense," wants to see whether car systems could detect whether a driver isn't fully concentrated, despite having his hands on the wheel and his eyes on the road.

Such a lack of concentration could be identified through the monitoring of brainwaves and the British premium car group wants to borrow technology from sports, medicine and aerospace to accomplish this.

Driver distraction is one of the biggest causes of traffic accidents and, with the proliferation of connected infotainment functions in the car, the likelihood that a driver isn't fully focused on driving increases. The US government has launched a major campaign to combat driver distraction and most automakers are working on technologies that make in-car systems easier to control.

Because it wouldn't be practical to fit a driver with a headband that records brainwaves, JLR is experimenting with sensors embedded in the steering wheel, a technology already used by the US space agency, NASA, and the US bobsleigh team.

"Even if the eyes are on the road, a lack of concentration or a daydream will mean the driver isn't paying attention to the driving task," said Wolfgang Epple, JLR's head of R&D. "They may miss a warning icon or sound, or be less aware of other road users so we are looking at how we could identify this and prevent it causing an accident."

The research is part of a broader effort at JLR to develop better safety technologies. The projects fall under the umbrella of its "Sixth Sense" research, which looks at how some technologies from other industries can be adapted for automotive use.