When a vehicle is transporting significant amounts of money, valuables, or potentially dangerous chemicals, it helps to know who’s actually behind the wheel.

Researchers have developed a novel biometric systemto thwart thieves and carjackers. Isao Nakanishi, a professor in the Graduate School of Engineering at Tottori University in Japan, and his colleagues describe an electroencephalogram or EEG system that continuously reads the driver’s brain waves through sensors in wearable headgear. If the wrong brain signals are detected, the vehicle would be safely immobilized. This research was recently published in the International Journal of Biometrics (abstract).

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“Brain waves are generated by the neural activities in the cerebral cortex; therefore, it is hidden in the body and cannot be bypassed,” the engineering team said in a description of their work. This technology could also be used to detect whether a driver is not paying attention, has his or her eyes closed for too long, or is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

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As inconvenient as it might be to don headgear full of sensors while driving, brain-computer interfaces are improving all the time. Wearing a special hat seems like a small sacrifice for the people entrusted with transporting millions of dollars in cash or highly toxic chemicals. After all, if something goes awry in transit, the Feds will be doing polygraph tests anyway.