New Study Says Self-Driving Cars May Lead to Motion Sickness

By October 15, 2015 No Comments

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The reality of self-driving cars is getting closer day by day. What began as mere speculation has turned into a very real trend within the automotive industry. Many of the world’s largest auto manufacturers including Volvo, Toyota, and Audi have developed their own version of the autonomous car. While we still have a long way to go before self-driving vehicles become the norm on the road, it may be sooner than initially expected.

In April, Delphi Automotive became the first company to drive an autonomous car across the US, the longest trip on record for a self-driving car. New models are being manufactured and tested to handle all types of driving situations including adverse weather conditions, construction areas, and aggressive drivers. While drivers are free to do whatever they like while in transit, the latest models expect drivers to be able to take the wheel at a moment’s notice. If the driver is distracted or unresponsive, the car will pull over to a safe destination at its earliest convenience. Self-driving cars are being equipped with 3D interactive maps, GPS systems, sensors that determine the proximity of other cars on the road, and cloud-based computing systems that stay up-to-date on the latest traffic reports.

Expectations remain high among automotive manufacturers. Many see self-driving cars as the future of safe driving. Volvo announced its plans to bring self-driving cars to consumers in the next couple of years, in an effort to end all deaths and injuries in their cars by 2020.

However, self-driving cars may come with a few unpleasant side effects. A new study from the Transportation Research Institute at the University of Michigan estimates that self-driving cars are likely to induce car sickness for a sizeable portion of the world’s population. They based their findings on three core components said to induce motion sickness including a conflict between vestibular and visual inputs, inability to control the direction of motion and an inability to anticipate the direction of motion.

Researchers asked a total 3,255 adults from the US, China, Japan, India, the UK and Australia how they would spend their time while the cars do the busy work. Popular activities included sleeping, working, watching TV, reading and texting. Some activities are expected to make car sickness worse, in particular those that keep the driver’s head pointed down and their eyes off the road. Although conducted on theory alone, the study estimates that 37% of US citizens will engage in activities that are likely to make car sickness worse, 6 – 10% would experience car sickness often, usually or all the time, and 6 – 12% would experience moderate to severe car sickness at some point.

c Luckily, regardless of when self-driving cars make their debut, Motioneaze will be there to help ease any motion sickness symptoms.

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