Will Self-driving Cars Make You Car Sick?

May 6, 2015 | | Say something

Self-driving vehicles could be prevalent on our roads within the next one or two decades. It has often been discussed about the legal ramifications, the increase in work productivity and the spectacular advancement in technology. What appears to have been omitted from the discussion is the possible health effects from self-driving cars.

A new study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan’s Transportation Research Institute suggests that autonomous vehicles could create motion sickness for about six to 12 percent of Americans. According to the report, this amount of people would suffer from moderate to severe motion sickness.

Researchers came to this conclusion by assuming that self-driving vehicles will replicate the automobiles of today.

Even though it’s low, researchers say it should be something considered by manufacturers. Some of the solutions, researchers say, consist of adding bigger windows, installing reclining seats, ensure passengers sit facing forward and including transparent video displays.

“Motion sickness is expected to be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles,” Michael Sivak said in a statement. “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.”

The study noted that most people would sleep, look out the window or talk on their phones as they travel from destination to destination – more than one-third of respondents said they’d play games, watch movies, text and walk during their time in a self-driving car. This can ease the amount of motion sickness.

Ostensibly, it isn’t just self-driving, autonomous vehicles that are generating health concerns. One of the latest advancements in technology include virtual reality headsets, and observers say there have been reports of motion sickness in this realm, too.

In the past year, various automobile manufacturers as well as Google has been in the process of road testing their respective driverless vehicles. Last week, for instance, an autonomous car finished a 3,400-mile road trip.


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