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Autonomous Vehicles Could Increase Motion Sickness: Study Photo:

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Trevor Collett | Apr, 13 2015 | 1 Comment

A study by the University Of Michigan has found that self-driven vehicles could lead to increased instances of motion sickness.

Researchers found that autonomous cars are likely to improve road safety and fuel efficiency while decreasing congestion, but the feeling of being driven around without being in control could lead to more unscheduled roadside stops.

The University’s Transportation Research Institute conducted the study, asking 3200 adults what they may choose to do while being chauffeured around by their own cars.

Respondents lived in the US, India, China, Japan, the UK and Australia, and between 26-40 percent of those surveyed from each of the countries - except India - said they would engage in activities that may prompt motion sickness.

In India, the figure was above 50 percent.

Popular choices included reading, playing games or working, along with watching television or movies while on the go.

With these figures in mind, the research team predicts between 6-12 percent of adults will succumb to motion sickness while travelling in autonomous vehicles.

“Motion sickness is expected to be more of an issue in self-driving vehicles than in conventional vehicles," University Of Michigan’s Michael Sivak said.

"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.”

Mr Sivak said that while these risk factors would increase, the frequency and severity of motion sickness would be influenced by the activity the occupant chose to pursue instead of driving.

The research team found around 60 percent of respondents (falling to below 50 percent in India) would engage in activities unlikely to increase motion sickness, including sleep, talking on the phone or simply watching the road.

Mr Sivak and associate Brandon Schoettle believed carmakers could reduce the impact of motion sickness in autonomous cars by adopting certain elements in the design.

Panoramic windows, fully-reclining seats that don’t swivel to face ‘backwards’ and transparent video screens, according to Sivak and Schoettle, are three examples.

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