Self-Driving Cars Could Increase Motion Sickness

One instance in which many people experience motion sickness is when they attempt to read while riding as a passenger, and self-driving cars will enable even the “driver” to engage in other activities. Google is one of a number of companies working on a self-driving vehicle. Researchers from the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute have undertaken an interesting survey, writes Liz Klimas for The Blaze.

Certain activities encourage motion sickness

Over 3,200 adults from six countries were surveyed on the kinds of activities they would engage in if they no longer had to drive. Over a third responded that they would read, text, watch movies, play games and work, stated a news release.

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As a result, 6-12% of Americans would experience moderate to severe motion sickness by doing these things in a self-driving car.

“Motion sickness is expected to be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles,” said Michael Sivak. “The reason is that the three main factors contributing to motion sickness — conflict between vestibular (balance) and visual inputs, inability to anticipate the direction of motion and lack of control over the direction of motion — are elevated in self-driving vehicles.”

Researchers recommend that self-driving cars feature large windows, transparent video displays and fully reclining seats which face forward in order to reduce motion sickness. The majority of people surveyed said that they would look out of the window, make phone calls or sleep while traveling in a self-driving car, all of which are less likely to cause motion sickness.

Self-driving cars: Successful testing

Self-driving cars are moving closer to becoming reality, and last week one vehicle completed a journey from San Francisco to New York during which it drove itself 99% of the time. The journey was made by an Audi Q5 fitted with equipment provided by auto supplier Delphi Corp., and CTO Jeff Owens was pleased with the results.

“We expected we would be in autonomous mode most of the time, but to be in it close to 99 percent of the time was a pleasant surprise,” he said. “The equipment was flawless.”

It might not be long before we can catch up on work or read a book while a self-driving car gets us from A to B, but motion sickness sufferers might be better off just watching the world go by.