Most of us have felt at one time or another the queasy feeling that you’re about to be sick while driving along on a windy road. Carsickness is a well-recognized phenomenon. Researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute were curious to know if carsickness would be an even bigger problem in the future when vehicles that drive themselves are more commonplace. Their findings spell doom for those of use plagued by carsickness.
The researchers surveyed 3,200 adults across the world in order to find out what kinds of activities they would engage in while passengers in an autonomous vehicle. After all, if no one has to be behind the wheel anymore, people will be free to concentrate on other things while sitting in the car.
More than one third of Americans surveyed reported that they would perform activities known to cause an increase of carsickness. Namely, texting, playing mobile games, reading, and working—basically, things we all do when we’re passengers in a car already. It stands to reason that if cars drive themselves, the would-be driver is more likely to experience carsickness because of a tendency to look down rather than out at the road.
According to the researches, carsickness isn’t just going to get worse simply because more people will be doing activities that cause carsickness. Autonomous vehicles will also cause more instances of carsickness because they exacerbate three problems commonly associated with it.
1. Conflict between balance and visual inputs
2. Inability to anticipate direction of motion
3. Lack of control over direction of motion
Long story short, passenger car sickness will also be worse in autonomous vehicles compared to traditional vehicles.
Fortunately, the researchers believe there are ways car manufacturers can decrease the risk of carsickness in autonomous vehicles. For instance, a larger field of vision should help passengers to feel less queasy. Autonomous car manufacturers could incorporate large, transparent windows so that passengers can see out regardless of which direction they’re looking. They can also use displays in such a way that passengers have to look forward. Seats that recline fully would help passengers to combat carsickness. Finally, swivel seats would have to be a huge no-no.
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Tags: autonomous cars, self-driving cars, carsickness, car insurance, auto insurance